By Wayne Harada
"Hop,” the current Easter film comedy starring James Marsden and an over-sized animated bunny voiced by Russell Brand, perhaps is this generation’s defining Easter entertainment. It's now in theaters.
But hold on; the classic bunny confection, “Here Comes Peter Cottontail,” is your parents or grandparent’s endearing bunny buddy, and this year is marking its 40th anniversary. Now available on HD DVD, it’s just the eggstravaganza to help fill a child’s Easter basket.
The classic “Cottontail” made its TV debut on April 4, 1971, a simple but timeless family favorite that remains a cheerful bonbon this time of year. For those who need the introduction, Danny Kaye, not only performing the title song, which has stood the test of time, but he tells the tale, through wisdom of a character named Seymour S. Sassafrass, with Vincent Price voicing the Irontail character. Kids, ask your grandparents who Kaye and Price were at the height of their fame.
By today’s standards, the animation may be crude, but this vintage porthole romp offers universal lessons about good and evil, responsibility and perseverance, challenges and commitment.
The plot is the stuff of storybook fables: a young bunny is charged with the task of being the Easter bunny of April Valley; in a contest to deliver the most eggs on Easter morning, he oversleeps due to the trickery of the nasty Irontail, so named because he has a metal tail, not a cotton tail. Irontail wins — delivering one egg.
Peter Cottontail has to redeem himself, and here’s where this seasonal classic takes on a year-round flavor: through a time-travel gizmo, Peter journeys through off-season detour celebrations including Mother’s Day, the Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, and Valentine’s — each holiday defined by a basket of eggs decorated accordingly — and even rescues an out-of-fashion Easter bonnet along the way.
Thus, “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” can be a year-round entity. Who says you can’t paint and dye eggs for Christmas?
ALSO OF INTEREST: Another hare tale, “ ‘Twas the Night Before Easter,” is out DVD. It’s a VeggieTales fantasy featuring Melinda Doolittle, an “American Idol” finalist, in a backstage musical on how she rescues