Sneak Peek: HOP coming April 1, 2011

Hi there!

I found this today… News about an animated movie I hadn’t heard of from the makers of Despicable Me (which we loved) that merges CGI and live action about… the Easter Bunny!?! Hop evidently opens on April 1st, 2011 just in time for Easter season.

Now I have to say I’m leery of the animated/live action crossover… The last time I felt it really worked was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? so I don’t have high hopes. But I know as soon as my daughters see the trailer, we’ll be planning a trip to the theater.

Directed by Tim Hill (Alvin and the Chipmunks and TV’s Spongebob Squarepants), Hop has a great cast with James Marsden (X-Men, Superman Returns), Russell Brand (as the voice of the Easter Bunny) (Get Him to the Greek), Kaley Cuoco (TV’s Big Bang Theory), Hank Azaria (TV’s Simpsons, The Birdcage), David Hasselhoff, Chelsea Handler and Hugh Laurie (TV’s House).

Here’s the synopsis:

Blending state of the art animation with live action, Hop is a comedy about E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand), the teenage son of the Easter Bunny. On the eve of taking over the family business, E.B. leaves for Hollywood in pursuit of his dream of becoming a drummer. He encounters Fred (James Marsden), an out-of-work slacker with his own lofty goals, who accidentally hits E.B. with his car. Feigning injury, E.B. manipulates Fred into providing him shelter, and Fred finds himself with the world’s worst houseguest.

Here are a few pics from the production:

And you can find the new trailer here at Apple.

Question: What do you think of this? Something you’d want to go see?

–Fitz

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DVD Review: The First Easter Rabbit, Deluxe Edition

Hi all…

Most of the kids I grew up with expected the Easter Bunny to arrive at their house before Easter morning, leaving behind baskets of candy and multi-colored eggs and hidden surprises around the house or yard to try and find. And inevitably he would appear, like clockwork, on Easter morning. We’ve been trying to keep that tradition alive with our kids now, so I was pleased to see The First Easter Rabbit, Deluxe Edition released on DVD for the holiday this year.

Originally airing in 1976, The First Easter Rabbit tells the story of how a lovable little stuffed bunny became the first Easter Bunny ever and how he was helped that first year by Santa Claus! This animated special was done by Rankin/Bass – founded originally by Arthur Rankin, Jr and Jules Bass – who were famous for making stop-motion holiday specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town and many more between 1960 and 1980.

Though it was done in traditional 2D animation, not stop-motion, The First Easter Rabbit tells a story somewhat based on The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. In the special, a little girl gets a stuffed rabbit for Christmas and calls him “Stuffy.” Unfortunately, she gets Scarlet Fever and her doctor orders all of her clothes and toys taken away and burned in case they may be carrying the disease on them and thus prevent her from getting better. Stuffy the stuffed rabbit is saved by a fairy who brings him to life and sends him off to Easter Valley – a magical place at the North Pole where it’s always springtime.

Unfortunately, a mean-hearted person called Zero doesn’t like the fact that he can’t make it snow in Easter Valley. Zero is in charge of keeping the North Pole cold and seems to have control issues. He knows there’s a magic flower in the valley that keeps the winter away, but he can’t find a way into the valley to steal it.

With help from some rabbit friends Stuffy meets on the way to the valley, and a little help from Santa Claus, Stuffy finds a way to bring baskets of Easter goodies to the kids in the town with the little girl, who has gotten better.

Though The First Easter Rabbit isn’t my favorite of the Rankin/Bass productions of the era, I have to admit that I hadn’t seen it since it aired in the mid-70s. And it was nice to be able to share its message of hope and celebration with my two daughters. And it’s tough to beat Burl Ives, who not only narrates the show, but sings the song “The Easter Parade.” There’s something magical about Ives’ voice, who was a part of many of the Rankin/Bass productions.

If you’re looking for a good Easter gift, pick up a copy of The First Easter Rabbit, Deluxe Edition and hide it away for next year’s Easter basket!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this and other Easter treats below!

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DVD Review: Bugs Bunny’s Easter Funnies

Hey all…

Yes, I’m a cartoon junkie at times. But not the cartoons you might think. Case in point is the recent release of Bugs Bunny‘s Easter Funnies on DVD. I’m a huge Bugs Bunny fan and have loved all of the classic cartoon characters from the 1940s and 1950s, even though I grew up in the 1970s – Bugs, Sylvester, Tweety, Granny, Pepe Le Pew, Foghorn Leghorn, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, and all the rest. But starting in the 1970s, the cartoons I saw were compilations of bits and pieces from those earlier classics mixed with bridging clips for continuity of a particular story or theme.

As a kid, I didn’t catch on that the studios were doing this and I just enjoyed the shows. But as I got older, I noticed that the voices weren’t the same for the characters in some places or that the animation style was slightly different here and there. And to see Bugs Bunny’s Easter Funnies on DVD after all this time, it really drives home how weird those bridging segments really were in a few places. (It originally aired in 1977, which makes me feel really old!)

This collection is focused around the Easter Bunny, who is sick and can’t deliver eggs to all the good little boys and girls who expect such things on Easter morning. EB calls Granny, who tries to find a suitable replacement. Bugs of course comes to mind, but he’s required by contract to finish a few cartoons and won’t be free in time to help. But together, Bugs and Granny hunt for someone else who might work. Daffy Duck of course thinks he’s the best replacement and eventually steals the job (though Granny and Bugs know it’s him), but along the way they watch several cartoons from other possibilities.

So if you were a fan of some of these collected shows, I apologize. This one is tough to complain about because it includes segments from some of my favorite WB cartoons of the classic era.

Sylvester and Tweety appear in a clip from “Birds Anonymous,” which features Sylvester trying to go “on the wagon” and swear off our fine feathered friends. Obviously that doesn’t go very well and Sylvester tries to eat Tweety. And when Sylvester’s friend from Birds Anonymous tries to help but falls off the wagon just as quickly. This short won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Subject in 1957.

“Knighty Knight Bugs” sends Bugs Bunny on a quest for King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table to retrieve the stolen “Singing Sword” from the Black Knight (Yosemite Sam) and his vicious dragon. Though Sam puts up a valiant fight, in the end Bugs saves the sword and sends his foe to the moon. This short also won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Subject in 1959.

Also included were clips from “Robin Hood Daffy” where Daffy Duck pretends to be Robin Hood and Porky Pig as Friar Tuck laughs uproariously at his antics. Even today, I still laugh when Daffy tries to use his “dollar and a quarter” quarter staff to protect himself. His “ho haha guard turn parry dodge spin ha thrust…” where he smacks himself in the head with the staff makes me giggle just to think about it.

Also included are clips from “For Scent-imental Reasons,” “Sahara Hare,” Rabbit of Seville,” “Hillbilly Hare,” “Tweety’s Circus,” and “Little Boy Boo.” And you get a bonus short – “His Hare-Raising Tale” – and a set of interactive puzzles on the DVD.

Now if the DVD just included each of those classics in their entirety, I would have called this a great bargain. But you only get snippets of each pasted together with this forced plot of finding a replacement for the Easter Bunny.

However, if you have kids, Bugs Bunny’s Easter Funnies isn’t a bad way to have them spend about 50 minutes to have a good time. I know my two daughters enjoyed it and they hadn’t seen it before. Look for it at your favorite rental or retail store. But if you’re looking for the full versions of these classic cartoons, I’d look for the Looney Tunes DVD collections on DVD.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up some of these great Bugs Bunny shows on DVD!

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