Hank and Mike are Easter Bunnies who lose their jobs when Easter Inc. is downsized. The two try to get back on their feet, but what job are two former Easter Bunnies qualified for?
Independent cinema has gone through a strange transformation over the past few years. When the Indie movement became huge, the stories were based in reality. Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape is based around the strange sexual idiosynchroncies of the lead character. Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing centers on a day in the life of urban city youth. Kevin Smith’s Clerks covers the day in the life of a typical convenience store clerk. Even Reservoir Dogs is based on the reality of classic heist movies and noirs.
Looking at independent movies today we see stranger and stranger ideas brought to us, high concept trumping the everyday insecurities of life. For every movie like Juno which, if you overlook the over-the-top forced hip dialogue, is still a movie about a regular pregnant girl, there is a movie like Hank and Mike, a film about two Easter Bunnies.
Hank and Mike are best friends who happen to be Easter Bunnies. They are not men dressed up like Easter Bunnies, they are actual Easter Bunnies. Yes, they are portrayed as actors dressed up like Easter Bunnies, but in this movie you need to overlook that fact and accept the reality they are in fact walking, talkling bunnies.
The movie opens with the characters in their apartment, Hank drunk and watching scrambled porn on his cable TV and Mike sleeping peacefully awaiting Easter morning. The two leave and go on their route, delivering Easter eggs to all the children. What they don’t know is that a new financial advisor (Chris Klein) is strong arming Mr. Pan (Joe Mantegna) and the board of directors of Easter Inc. into cutting costs to make Easter, a second tier holiday, more profitable. When Hank skips the last house on his route, and Little Lucy Sulsky takes this to the media, they are fired in the downsizing efforts.
The two try to get other jobs, with a variety of results. They attempt to be butchers, septic control workers, and UPS drivers but fail at everything. The only thing that Hank finds comfort in is his occupation as a janitor in a school, feeling comfortable around children. That even fails as Hank tells the kids the story of his sorid life while Mike starts an all chocolate food fight in the cafeteria. It is at this point that the movie turns very dark. Hank becomes suicidal while Mike, always the good guy, becomes a pathetic figure. It becomes hard to cheer for either man but somehow, and it probably comes down to the acting of the lead characters, you remain sympathetic to them.
Both Thomas Michael and Paolo Mancini are solid in their roles as the lead Easter Bunnies, and they should be since they created the characters back in 1997. The two men appear to be The Odd Couple of Easter Bunnies and it is their friendship and the turmoil of their lives that carries the movies strange storyline.
It is obvious the filmmakers have an affinity for independent films from the past. There are shots in this movie that reminds me of shots from Swingers and Reservoir Dogs. There are also actual scenes in this movie that bear a strong similarity to Kevin Smith’s Dogma. The entire climactic scene at the end, when Hank and Mike face off with the board of directors, is shot and feels exactly like the scene where Matt Damon and Ben Affleck circle the board of directors in Dogma. Much of the movie also owes a great deal of gratitude to Office Space. Liam was actually stolen (homage?) from The Big Lebowski. In Lebowski, Jesus had a silent sidekick named Liam and the idea was stolen and used here as Liam was the silent sidekick for Stu. Hell, there is even a strange homage to The A-Team when a van pulls up with Team Jesus: Holy Warriors in it to try to save Mike. I do give the filmmakers credit for acknowledging their influences in the commentary tracks.
I would be remiss not to mention Chris Klein. Klein has received a lot of shit for his inferior acting but he was fantastic in his movie. Forget the Chris Klein from American Pie and Rollerball. When you listen to Klein give his speech to the board of directors at the end of the movie, you are reminded of Alec Baldwin’s career defining role in Glengarry Glen Ross. Now, Chris Klein is no Alec Baldwin but damn if I didn’t gain a new appreciation for the actor in this movie. Klein can have a career as a corporate asshole if he really wants it, based on his work in this movie.
Klein also is involved in the best scene in the movie, hands down. There is a moment where Mike is in a bar getting drunk and finds himself sitting next to Klein’s character. Neither man knows the other, and then, for no reason, Klein steps onto the stage with the band and performs his anti-love song. This leads into a montage of Hank and Mike, while intercutting with Klein singing. The song is completely ridiculous and over-the-top but is so wonderful at the same time. The enthusiasm Klein gives while singing the song adds to the strange lyrics and it becomes an instant highlight of the movie. This scene has nothing to do with the rest of the script, but I don’t care. It is a jaw dropping performance.
This comedy is not a hilarious laugh riot. This is a black comedy with a very dark undertone. There is violence perpetrated by the Easter Bunnies and a decent amount of nudity that makes this movie definitely not suitable for children. But it is a quirky, dark look at two friends who find themselves lost and their black attempts to redeem themselves. It is a smart movie that only fails due to the script being a little too clever at times. The picture quality is also pretty poor but for its budget, but I can’t complain too much. They made the movie they wanted to make on a shoestring budget and that has to be commended.
Independent cinema may not be what it used to be but in a day of quirky family comedies like Little Miss Sunshine and Juno it is nice to find something as unique and adult as Hank and Mike. It is strange to say that a movie about two men dressed as Easter Bunnies is adult, but this movie is as honest a look at failure as you will find in a movie about bunnies.
The Making of Hank and Mike (56:05) – The Chocolate, The Shit, The Vomit and The Blood was the original title of this making-of documentary. This follows the production through the filmmaking process. It is interesting to watch the making of a low budget independent, especially when they start to stress about money problems right before the shoot is supposed to begin. Also interesting is Chris Klein was a replacement for another unnamed Hollywood star that fell ill in the middle of the shoot. This is a really great documentary with lots of fascinating tidbits.
The Evolution of Hank and Mike (5:08) – The characters were created in 1997 for a comedy troupe they used to be involved in. Hank and Mike were the most famous characters on the show. It is short and to the point and really provides nothing more than mentioning how long the characters have been evolving.
Feature Commentary – The commentary track brings together director Matthew Klinck and writers/stars Thomas Michael (Hank) and Paolo Mancini (Mike). The three men are old friends and that makes the commentary very easy to listen to. They just talk back and forth and explain everything you could want to know without ever seeming boring.
The Hank and Mike Short Film (15:23) – This is quite an inventive short film but really doesn’t hold a candle to the movie it would become. There are a number of quotes from the short that made it into the feature film and it is fun watching for those. The short film presents Hank and Mike sitting in a strip club talking about their lives with flashbacks to what led to their termination. The main difference is that both Hank and Mike are alcoholic douches in the short while Mike becomes a more sympathetic character in the main film.
Theatrical Trailer (2:14)
Deleted Scenes (11:05) – There are eleven deleted scenes and you have the choice of watching them with or without commentary. A couple of deleted subplots removed from the movie were added here including Little Lucy Sulsky being added to the school scenes as well as the truth about Joe Mantegna’s character. There is in scene that the director says shouldn’t have been cut when the Easter bunnies steal a bag of weed hidden in a little kid’s room while delivering the eggs.
Extended Scenes – There are six extended scenes: The Suicide Infomercial (0:56), Eating the Pigeons (0:42), Hank’s Porno Collection (0:28), Mike and Lena’s Date (2:27), Watermelon Man Says “Thank You” (0:34). However, the best of these is Chris Klein’s complete anti-love song – Hubriss’ Song (2:46).
Alternate Ending (2:24) – You can watch this ending with or without commentary. The end actually expands on what happened in the main feature explaining what happened to Chris Klein’s financial advisor. It is – interesting to say the least.
Bloopers/Outtakes (2:53) – This is just your basic mess-ups and pranks. The one that stands out is Joe Mantegna getting a phone call in the middle of a take.
Auditions (6:52) – The auditions are intercut with the actual scenes they appeared in. There is a total of eight actor auditions included here.
Photo Gallery (2:20) – This is a gallery of behind the scenes pictures.
Alternate Posters (1:05) – This is a group of various posters used (or maybe not used, they don’t really say) for the film.
Easter Eggs – There are a large number of Easter eggs hidden in the various menus and most are behind the scenes features with the cast and crew. We get a rehearsal for an action scene, a director’s comment about the bomb egg, a submission from Thomas Michael to Saturday Night Live about an Easter bunny skit, and general jokey stuff.