If kids’ movies want to be considered good, they almost have to be two things at once: They must safely and continuously entertain children, and they must provide a meaningful enough plotline to keep older audience members from killing themselves. Movies like “Despicable Me,” “WALL-E” and the “Toy Story,” “Ice Age” and “Shrek” franchises have taken this hard task and mastered it, raising the bar for children’s movies. So when a slightly stupid, relatively pointless and shallowly humorous children’s’ film like “Hop” comes out, are we right to expect from it the same kind of adult-sized meaning and poignancy we’ve grown accustomed to getting from others of its kind?

Hop

At Quality 16 and Rave
Universal

“Hop” is the story of E.B. — the Easter Bunny’s son, voiced by Russell Brand (“Get Him to the Greek”) — and his quest to become a famous rock star in Hollywood, abdicating his inherited duties as the Easter Bunny and leaving essentially no heir to whom his father can pass the title. James Marsden (“Death at a Funeral”) plays a slacker named Fred O’Hare who can’t seem to get anything right. Despite coming from different worlds, they learn to work together and realize their potential by helping save Easter — and the powers of the Easter Bunny — from a coup d’état organized by the somewhat Socialist working-class chicks (the avian variety) who’ve grown tired of thanklessly laying Easter eggs.

The movie isn’t 100-percent animated like those aforementioned successful films, but most of its main characters, effects and scenery are. Sadly, and unlike more successful kids’ movies, it doesn’t do nearly enough with the talent and budget it was allotted to be considered anything but terrible.

And honestly, who cares about the Easter Bunny? The lack of a clear answer to that question is the main reason this film isn’t engaging. While Easter obviously holds a tremendous significance in the Christian faith, has it ever made sense that it was a bunny hiding the eggs, which are somehow made of chocolate and look like they’ve had their outsides painted by roadies for The Grateful Dead?

The main conflict at the outset of the film stems from E.B. not wanting to be the new Easter Bunny, which is only a problem because a power-hungry chick with a Hispanic accent wants to seize control and become the next Easter Bunny by any means necessary.

It’s disappointing to see that the only tangible trait of this film’s antagonist that we’re meant to internalize as inherently evil is his ethnicity. This surface-level disappointment brings up issues about race.

If “Toy Story 3” is a kids’ movie about becoming an adult, and “Shrek” is the four-part bildungsroman of an unimpressive, ugly-but-benign ogre’s transformation into a classically brave fairytale hero, perhaps “Hop” is simply a movie for kids who are easily amused — the lesser half of our next generation of moviegoers that will one day fuel a 95-year-old Nicholas Cage to make yet another comeback.

While “Hop” is a children’s movie, it isn’t a smart one, relying on predictably shallow jokes and dumb gags for laughs and entertainment, and assumes that those watching will be too stupid to complain. It’s about nothing, has no real message, is loud and obnoxious enough to last 90 minutes and features the usually obscene David Hasselhoff (“Click”) and comedian Chelsea Handler in surprisingly meaningful roles — for a children’s movie, that is.

You’d think we wouldn’t expect as much from a movie about a talking bunny. Trouble is, children’s movies grow up so fast nowadays.

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