April 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: James Marsden, Russell Brand, Hank Azaria
Directed by: Tim Hill (“Alvin and the Chipmunks”)
Written by: Cinco Paul (“Despicable Me”) and Ken Daurio (“Despicable Me”)

While Easter may never be referred to as a Hallmark holiday (the whole Christ resurrection thing usually trumps marshmallow Peeps), it’s not very difficult to point out the shamefully obvious marketing strategy a family flick like “Hop” has planned for the month of April. If Universal Pictures could assure God-fearing consumers wouldn’t scream blasphemy, the studio would’ve probably cross-promoted with candy companies to make licorice crucifixes and unleavened bread-flavored jelly beans. (Anyone wanna join me later at Denny’s for the $7.99 Last Supper?)

Actually, pay no attention to the blatant commercial hooks in “Hop.” They will distract you from the real problems this franticly written live-action/animated hybrid tries to bury under mountains of milk chocolate and fluffy bunny ears. The movie might keep the youngest of kiddos hypnotized by the gaudy imagery on screen, but “Hop” is far from hip.

In “Hop,” Easter is threatened when the Easter Bunny’s spoiled teenage son E.B. (Russell Brand) decides he doesn’t want to follow 4,000 years of tradition and take over for his retiring father. Instead, E.B. escapes Easter Island via an intercontinental rabbit hole (don’t scoff, it’s magic) and journeys to Hollywood to pursue his dream of becoming a rock ’n’ roll drummer.

His plan is diverted when Fred O’Hare (James Marsden mugging for the camera), a slacker with his own daddy issues and vivid Easter memories from his childhood, runs E.B. over with his car (someone please explain why Fred is freaked out when E.B. talks but not when he hits a rabbit wearing a plaid shirt) and is forced to care for the cuddly creature out of pity.

Director Tim Hill (“Alvin and the Chipmunks”) offers up some harmless silliness, but Hop’s script is as uninspired as an animation can get. Why is the Easter mythology so much like Christmas? Why does the villain pollito have to have a Latino accent? And why, oh why, isn’t there a Glenn Close cameo when E.B. fakes his own death by boiling a turkey? In all, avoid “Hop” like you would cavities and hyperglycemia.

Jencarlos Canela – Hop

April 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

The last thing Cuban American musician and actor Jencarlos Canela would ever want to do is make his mother cry, but he was happy to see tears of joy when he told her he was chosen by Universal Pictures to perform a song for the Spanish version of the live-action/animated film “Hop,” due out in theaters April 1.

The song, “I Want Candy,” which was originally recorded by The Strangeloves in 1965, was translated into “Caramelo” for Canela, who started his solo career in 2002 after a short stint with the group Boom Boom Pop when he was only 12.

Canela, 22, graduated with honors from the New World School of the Arts in 2006 where he studied music and acting. Since then, he’s gone on to star in a number of Spanish soap operas, including “Pecados ajenos,” “Doña Bárbara,” and “Más sabe el diablo.”

During an interview with me, Canela talked about covering a classic song like “I Want Candy” and explained why a movie featuring animated Easter rabbits is something everyone will probably identify with.

How did you get involved in this project like this and what attracted you to it in the first place?

One day I got a call asking me if I was interested in performing a song for “Hop.” I said of course I would be interested in doing a song for a film of this caliber. There were great actors involved. Everything about it is fantastic. I jumped at the opportunity and everything worked out.

What are the first steps a musician has to take when giving an already-existing song its own style and flavor?

The first thing is to sit down with the people at Universal Pictures. When you jump into a project you don’t know much about you need guidance and to be able to listen to what the client wants. They knew what they were looking for and what they wanted the song to sound like. All we had to do is listen to them and go into the studio and put heart and energy into the song and hope for the best.

What did you think of the original song and how did you want to make it different?

It’s a happy song about love that makes you smile and makes you want to dance. We didn’t want to necessarily make it different. The new arrangement was already very fresh, modernized and upbeat, but the essence of the song was conserved. We just wanted to have fun with it and give it a good vibe. The way different people interpret a song makes it different.

Had you heard “I Want Candy” covered by other musicians before?

Honestly, I haven’t heard the song done by any other artist. I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about what the song should sound like. I knew how big the classic song was, but there was never another version that really stuck with me. It wasn’t hard for me because I wasn’t tied to any previous versions. They gave me the Spanish translation, so once I knew the melody it was all about singing it my own way.

Who was most excited when you told them you were performing a song for a feature film?

My whole family. My mother cried, but my mother cries for everything. I can tell my mom, “Mom, I had a good day today,” and she would be like (pretending to cry), “Oh, my god, you did?” When my family got the news everyone called their friends and before you knew it, everyone knew. One of my aunts told me she was going to watch the movie seven times. That’s the kind of family I have and I love them for it.

Do you think because the movie is centered around the Easter holiday more people will identify with it?

Yeah, I think Easter is a tradition everyone knows about. Everyone knows about the candy and hiding the eggs. It’s one of the most fun traditions we have. Watching a half-animated, half-live action movie about those traditions is going to be a lot of fun.

What do you think about the film featuring a Latino character named Carlos?

(Laughs) I think they should change his name to Jencarlos.