Hop plays like the kind of movie that was sold on a pitch meeting (Russell Brand is … the Easter Bunny!) and then filled in after the fact, with haphazard, inconsistent plotting and a bunch of lazy jokes. Since first impressing U.S. audiences in Forgetting Sarah Marshall in 2008, Brand has proved himself to be a completely one-note performer, and while he’s toned down to PG-level here, he’s still doing the same arrogant-wanker bit he’s been milking for the last few years. Eager James Marsden plays the bunny’s human pal, and he looks every bit the live-action cartoon he did in Enchanted. But no amount of enthusiasm can make up for the shaky premise and half-hearted writing.
Brand voices E.B., son of the head Easter Bunny, who escapes from Easter Island (yuk yuk) and heads to Hollywood because he’d rather be a star drummer than take over the family business. There he hooks up with Marsden’s Fred, an amiable slacker with a wide-eyed sense of wonder. The integration of the live-action and animated characters is fairly seamless (director Tim Hill, who helmed installments in both the Chipmunks and Garfield franchises, has experience handling this sort of thing), but it isn’t particularly creative or fun. Cameos from Chelsea Handler and David Hasselhoff substitute celebrity recognition for actual jokes, and the plot sputters to a halt leaving a whole pile of discarded storylines. That pitch probably needed another polish or two.