Monday, August 15, 2011

Chores for an old ex-leper?

I need my eyes testing. I was flicking up through the tv guide on the screen, and could have sworn I saw a programme called "Household Lepers"*.

* It was actually "Household Helpers".

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Hop to it

'Hop' is a film about the Easter Bunny, so a bit out of season, but anyway...

On Easter Island, EB (voiced by Russell Brand) is the reluctant heir to the Easter Bunnying business, whose father (voiced by Hugh Laurie) is trying to groom him for greatness. But EB wants to be a drummer, he doesn't want this life where he feels all he can do is let his father down. He decides to do a bunk and heads to Hollywood to meet his destiny.

In California, human Fred O'Hare (James Marsden) is a slacker whose family stage an intervention, demanding he gets a job, moves out and gets a life. This 'tough love' instigated by Fred's ever-disappointed dad (Gary Cole) is diluted a bit by his sister Sam (Kaley Cuoco) secretly hooking him up with somewhere to stay and a job interview.

On Fred's way to his temporary home, the two worlds literally collide as his bumper meets EB.

Fred has met his match in rebellious EB and trying to restrain the bunny's excesses gives him insight into his own behaviour, and he starts to see a future to aim for. In the meantime, on Easter Island, EB's distraught dad sends out his royal guard of the Pink Berets to track down EB, while his chick assistant Carlos (voiced by Hank Azaria) schemes to take over.

I found it quite a decent film. It's a combination of CGI and live action, with the bunnies and chicks beautifully created with computer effects - most excellent moving hair and feathers for maximum fluffiness and cuteness. The storyline moved along quite well, with enough exciting and or funny moments to hold the children's interest for the most part. The younger children I took with me (5 & 6) grew somewhat restless mid-way through, and started looking around, fidgeting and even asking when it would be over

I'm a bit fed up of the absent mothers trope in children's films: I mean, there was no sign of Mrs EB senior, and Bonnie O'Hare (Elizabeth Perkins) had minimal lines. I'd like to see more mothers. Preferably ones with lines and thoughts and input.

Kaley Cuoco (best known as Penny from the 'Big Bang Theory') did a nice turn as Fred's sister. She was feisty and capable, a good foil for Fred's flakiness. Gary Cole did the grumpy dad role well, while the voice-actors were all very good. It worked well. I particularly liked Russell Brand's brief live-action cameo

I was seriously annoyed by Fred & EB's behaviour at Fred's adopted sister (Tiffany Espensen)'s school play - entirely unapologetic in the aftermath - and precisely why it was portrayed as ok to treat her that way, I don't know? Because she wasn't a good singer? Because she was a bit rude to Fred at the intervention? Because she was adopted? Because of her race or sex? Events going wrong is one thing, but this was more like a deliberate sabotage. It was just weird, none of the other members of the family got a comeuppance like that and I can't get to grips with the thinking behind it.

I liked the 3 Pink Beret bunnies, I liked how efficient & accurate they were with the blow-darts and it's nice to see female characters with the action role. Unfortunately, their characterisation was limited to one of the trio being asthmatic and a bit clumsy, otherwise they were interchangeable. Every time the others leapt into a pose, she would take the opportunity to have a blast of her inhaler, as a bit of comic relief. It's good to have an asthmatic doing those active things and being very physical whereas often they are depicted in film/tv as sitting on the sidelines or nerdy. I liked that the three female bunnies had this action role and were clearly very good at their job, but they didn't have much, if any dialogue. That annoyed me.

It also seriously irritated me that there was a scene where EB went to the PlayBoy Mansion. I mean, it was clearly a joke aimed at adults, but it wasn't particularly hilarious, and just when did it become ok to make reference to a just-about pornographic mag in a kids' film? Hefner gets a cameo role (just as a voice) in a kids' film. Hey, it's all good fun. FFS.

Also there's a really creepy bit where EB pretends to be a toy rabbit and enjoys a cuddle with Kaley Cuoco - and it's not like an innocent cuddle, he's getting one over on the character of Fred and he's sexually interested in her - he asks Fred if she's single in another scene. I mean, seriously, interspecies attraction? Argh. Really?