Possessed of a truly eggsecrable subtitle – Mission Eggpossible – this Easter-themed German animation probably supplies just enough frantic hi-jinks to keep small children mildly absorbed over the holidays. But its scatty plot, about a group of master rabbits responsible for distributing Easter eggs and the jealous foxes who wish to supplant them, was seemingly cooked up by someone slipping into a chocolate-induced coma.
Its difficulties are evident as Ute von Münchow-Pohl’s film can barely summon any interest in its own lead character, aspiring young rabbit Max. Max has the honour of being the first city rabbit asked to join the master rabbits. But he makes a formidable enemy when he humiliates bad-boy rabbit Leo while – in the now obligatory social-media shoo-in for kids’ cartoons – the latter is livestreaming to his fans. Leo, a failed academy pupil, takes his grievances to the band of forest-dwelling foxes who want to take over the egg racket. But the loathsome leporid is keeping his real intentions hidden from them: to destroy all the eggs entirely and, in the process, Easter itself.
Rabbit Academy’s animation has a crisply hewn look that gives both the characters and the sacred mountain down which the eggs roll on looping tracks a snappy appeal. Shame the same can’t be said about the script. The Monsters University-type setup is utterly derivative, with some waffle about master rabbits having to locate their own special power, a bit of kung fu styling for chief instructor Madame Hermione, and a sickly lead song, Let’s Colour the World, that will surely make even five-year-olds want to insert a pencil in each nostril and head-butt a table.
Max doesn’t so much have a story as a series of nagging moral checkpoints that sometimes contradict each other: find your own personal special power, but also, as one character chides him: “Is ‘I’ your favourite word?” Try to avoid letting your kids get sucked down this rabbit hole of self-affirmation, and stick on Watership Down instead.