FILM REVIEW: Hop (U)

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The next time you tuck into the creamy chocolate of an Easter egg, spare a thought for the overworked bunny who has to distribute all of those treats to the children of the world.

Just like Santa Claus and his reindeer, the Easter Bunny and his flock of loyal chicks traverse the globe in the space of one day, secreting eggs under bushes and shrubs.

It’s little wonder that when the mantle passes from one Easter Bunny to the next, the incoming heir balks at the idea of this life of servitude.

Thus begins Hop, a relentlessly cheery and entertaining adventure for the entire family, celebrating the joys of the forthcoming holiday season.

Tim Hill, who previously directed Garfield 2 and Alvin And The Chipmunks, marshals more computer-generated critters with aplomb, seamlessly integrating his digitally rendered characters with actors for the usual array of slapstick and tomfoolery.

Familiarity breeds like rabbits in Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch’s screenplay, which contrasts the conflict between the rebellious new Easter Bunny and his beleaguered father with an unemployed slacker and his despairing old man.

The two sons gradually lose their childish ways and accept the responsibilities that come with adulthood.

EB (voiced by Russell Brand) lives on Easter Island with his father (Hugh Laurie).

The young rabbit is destined to ascend the throne as master of all that is sugary and ovoid but EB harbours dreams of becoming a drummer in a rock band.

So he runs away from the warren and heads for Hollywood, where he finds an unexpected ally in eternal loser Fred O’Hare (James Marsden), who glimpsed the Easter Bunny delivering baskets when he was a boy.

Having revealed his true identity to Fred, EB auditions for Hoff Knows Talent in front of judge David Hasselhoff (playing himself) and gatecrashes a drumming session with the Blind Boys Of Alabama.

Meanwhile, Fred struggles to win the approval of his parents (Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins), who dote on his goody-two-shoes, adopted sister (Tiffany Espensen).

Thankfully, older sister Sam (Kaley Cuoco) helps Fred to achieve his potential, if he has any.

Hop is a sugar-coated treat for audiences of all ages about the pressures of living up to your parents’ expectations and the courage to stand up for what you believe in.

Brand brings laconic charm to his floppy-eared hero while Marsden bounds around the screen like an excitable puppy, gesticulating wildly as events spiral out of control before the inevitable reconciliation.

Hank Azaria relishes his role as the traitorous Spanish chick with ideas above his fluffy, feathered station (“Enjoy your life of privilege... leetle bunny!”) and Hasselhoff pokes gentle fun at himself, telling EB and fame-hungry tykes in the audience to always put loved ones ahead of stardom.

Celebrity is fleeting but family is forever.

By Damon Smith

:: NO SWEARING :: NO SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 6.5/10

Released: April 1 (UK & Ireland), 95 mins