Two features that I animated on open this month, which is exciting. First up is Hop, which I recommend, despite the lousy reviews. I think many reviewers misunderstand why movies appeal to audiences. Good or bad reviews often have little correlation with how much people enjoy their movie-going experience. Not that Hop is The Godfather. Which is what reviews frequently get wrong — they take a family film that is intentionally aimed squarely at the kiddies and review it with a one-size-fits-all sensibility. Hop a sweet, shallow entertainment, like a basket of Easter candy, and not so different than many of the animated films we all loved as children.
Carlos rallies the chicks in a still from one of my scenes
But the more important thing in these films is character. I sent a Hop poster to my 7 year old niece, and she can’t wait to see the film. She’s seen enough of the advertising to be excited about the characters. Not the character arcs, which hopefully she’ll be satisfied by in retrospect, but the characters. She’s bought an EB bunny that she carries around and wants a Carlos plushie, and she’s excited to experience these characters on the big screen. This is the other thing critics and pundits don’t usually get: we love animated movies for the characters and the funny things they say and the funny ways they move. A good story if a nice plus, but frankly, the typical film story is a rehash, especially in animation. The Jungle Book is a revered film, but it’s nothing more than a series of superb character moments. The story is simply a vehicle for those moments.
Maybe I’m just justifying what I do. I animate, and I enjoyed animating on Hop, and I think the character animation came out well. I would definitely pay to see a sequel that featured the Carlos character, just as I’d love to animate that character again (Hank Azaria does a wonderful voice for Carlos, though his Phil voice is a little close to Chief Wiggums). Another cool thing about Hop is for the first time Rhythm & Hues has done a hybrid film with several completely CG animated sequences. For me, these sequences are the strongest parts of the film. And I think Hop is a good example of the way cartoony, hand-keyed animation can work great with live-action.
So grab some kids and check it out. I’ll wager you’ll have a pretty good time, even if it doesn’t change your life.