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Monday, April 14, 2014


I know that this is going to sound incredibly insane, but I'm going to open up discussion of this Monday Matinee by talking about a television show that I used to watch on television all the time.

I know.  Talking TV on the movie day.  Trust me, it will all come together.  At least, in my mind it will.  Just bear with me.

Okay, so how many of you have heard of the television program "The Biggest Loser"?  It's aired on NBC since the mid-2000s, and is currently one of NBC's biggest ratings winners on the reality TV circuit.  The show is currently hosted by soap opera starlet Allison Sweeney and the trainers are Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels, and Dolvett Quince.  The show deals with the subject of weight loss, and pits overweight and obese contestants in a battle to shed the pounds by watching what they eat and working out for hours at a time.  And, over the last few years, the contestants have shed incredible amounts of weight.

I'll readily admit that in the show's earliest seasons, I was such a fan.  Back in those days, the contestants all had one goal on their minds - to become a healthier and slimmer person so that they could add years to their lives and improve their health overall.  Sure, there were temptation challenges and other challenges designed to give some contestants an edge, but for the most part, the prize was a happy and healthy lifestyle - and a cash prize of a quarter of a million dollars.  But again, on the earliest seasons, there wasn't any emphasis on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  The main motivation was getting fit.  The earliest shows of "The Biggest Loser" were peppered with food preparation ideas, low-impact aerobic techniques, and other fun facts that informed and inspired home viewers.

That's why I'm disappointed in the current direction that the show has taken over the last couple of years.  The healthy tips and tricks have been eliminated in favour of more temptation challenges designed to tear contestants apart instead of unifying them.  There's a lot more emphasis on drama and catfights instead of sweating and pushing your way to success.  And we won't even begin to talk about the lengths that contestants have gone to in order to win the game so that they can win the money at the end - not lose the weight to save their lives.

Perhaps the best example of how a once mighty show fell could be traced back to an episode which originally aired on April 17, 2012.  It was during the thirteenth season of the show which was ironically subtitled "No Excuses".  I say ironic because all of the contestants seemed to have lots of excuses for some of the behaviour they engaged in on the program which included bullying, throwing weight challenges, and in the April 17 episode, walking off the show when the contestants realized that producers would be bringing back someone from the show.  Of the five contestants that were left on the show, three returned.  The other two quit, bringing controversy and shame to a program that started off with the best of intentions.  And you really don't want to hear my opinions on the final three of Conda, Jeremy, and Kim because I always said that if I didn't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything! 

So I won't.

But really, that whole thirteenth season of "The Biggest Loser" was the biggest train wreck.  I mean, can you believe that on a show about weight loss and avoiding temptations like chocolate, marshmallows, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups that the show would have a reward challenge where the contestants go and watch a movie about chocolate, marshmallows, and peanut butter cups?  I mean, talk about defeating the whole purpose of the show right there!

And on top of all that, the movie wasn't rated as being all that great!

But this now leads into the real Monday Matinee topic that I've chosen for this week.  As it so happens, the movie is Easter themed, and since this is the Monday before Easter Sunday, I thought it appropriate for this week's discussion.

And that movie happens to be the 2011 film "Hop", which features Russell Brand, James Marsden, Kaley Cuoco, Hugh Laurie, Hank Azaria, Gary Cole, and Elizabeth Perkins.  So you would think that with all that star power that the Tim Hill directed film would be an automatic hit.

Well, it was.  For children. 

For everyone else, they weren't as thrilled with this movie.  Though it made a healthy $183 million at the box office, it was universally panned by critics for being unfunny, uninspired, and stereotypical to Mexican-Americans, if you can believe it!

Okay, so maybe "Hop" isn't going to be listed as one of my all-time favourite films.  If you can look past the bad reviews, it's really not that bad of a film.

You see, the story of "Hop" is all about a little bunny who goes by the name of "E.B." (Brand).  And, E.B. lives on Easter Island with his father, Mr. Bunny (Laurie).  

Mr. Bunny just happens to be the one who goes around to every house in the world and delivers wonderful presents like brightly coloured eggs, chocolate bunnies, and jellybeans (and after you learn where jellybeans come from in this movie, you may never want to eat one again).

Of course, Mr. Bunny cannot keep leaving behind Easter treats forever.  At some point he has to retire from his duties.  And Mr. Bunny expects that E.B. will naturally step in to take over.  But when E.B. starts to question the demands associated with being the Easter Bunny and decides that maybe being the Easter Bunny isn't his true calling (keep in mind that E.B. is a teenager), E.B. decides to flee Easter Island to set up a new life for himself in Hollywood.  

You see, E.B. is really into rock music, and his ultimate dream is to become a world famous drummer. 

Of course, once Mr. Bunny discovers that his son has essentially gone AWOL from Easter Island, he dispatches his army of Pink Berets out to locate his son so that he can fulfill his duties as being the next Easter Bunny.

However E.B. soon finds that the world of Hollywood is a scary place, especially after he nearly becomes roadkill after he gets struck by a car driven by professional slacker Fred O'Hare (Marsden).  And unbeknownst to E.B., Fred has a little bit of a connection to him.  When Fred was a little boy, he actually woke up from his bed during the early morning hours and caught E.B.'s dad in the act of leaving behind Easter candy.  This caused Fred to have a dream of his own - to become the very first human being to become the Easter Bunny.  

Of course, E.B. happens to tell a little white lie, and convinces Fred that the bunny he saw that Easter morning was actually him and not his father, and Fred decides to take in the little bunny - even though the bunny actually causes more trouble than he could have even dreamed of.

In addition to the Pink Berets heading out to California to bring E.B. home, E.B. and Mr. Bunny also have to worry about the pair of Easter chicks who decide that E.B. is better off staying away.  You see, while Easter Chick Phil (Azaria) is friends with E.B. and means to do him no harm, Easter Chick Carlos (also voiced by Azaria) is plotting an evil scheme to take over Easter Island so that he can have absolute rule over the area.  After all, Carlos is fed up with always having to play second fiddle to a bunny rabbit every Easter.

So, in addition to the Pink Berets searching for E.B., Carlos is plotting his revenge.  And if his revenge ends up in the form of silencing E.B. and his father permanently, all the better right?

Well, I can't really get into too much detail here.  After all, I really hate spoiling movie endings which is why I usually never do.  But all I can tell you is this.  The movie has so much candy in it, you'll likely go into a diabetic coma if you tried to consume it all at once.  The movie has some touching moments that really get you into the spirit of Easter.  And there's even a special appearance by David Hasselhoff.

What else could you want?

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