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By Jamie Tipps | June 20, 2008

Swallow the premise of “Hank and Mike”—that the men dressed in rabbit costumes are bona fide Easter bunnies—and you’ve got a pretty funny movie. Hank (Thomas Michael) and Mike (Paulo Mancini) are an odd couple: Hank is a foul mouthed chain smoker and womanizer; his partner Mike is a shy romantic and perpetual overachiever. The duo live and work together until one night they miss a house on their route, forgetting to leave an egg for a girl. Since the Easter Corporation is downsizing “Tier 2 holidays,” the minor snafu lands them squarely on the chopping block and leads them straight to the unemployment line. Needless to say, bringing wonderment and joy to small children doesn’t rate high in today’s job market.

Though it makes use of broad gags like the rabbits’ love of carrots and chocolate, the movie is really at its best when it ignores the bunny suits completely, underscoring the realism with a floppy ear or stained pink fur. When it comes down to it, the story is about two thirty-something guys who lose their identities when they lose their jobs. Hank and Mike have coasted through their lives—Hank by self-medicating with sex and booze, and Mike by fantasizing about his dream girl instead of talking to her. Getting canned sends them into a tailspin, but at least it wakes them up from their life coma.

The bleakness of the scene would be a downer if you couldn’t invest in the characters, but the leads are likable actors. Michael’s cynical Hank does the comedic heavy lifting and Mancini’s Mike takes care of the moral center, but it’s their unlikely friendship that lends the film its touch of sweetness. Joe Mantegna and Chris Klein also lend performances as Easter Corporation’s world weary chairman and its aggressive new financial advisor, respectively. As the man who leads the company astray and gets Hank and Mike fired, Klein in particular brings an efficient meanness to his role as the demonic proponent of the almighty dollar.

Though the end ranges a little too far into the surreal for my taste (if one can say that about a movie starring cottontail rabbits), the whole is an amusing experience. Director Matthiew Klinck and writers Michael and Paulo borrow the disillusionment of “Office Space,” add the crassness of “Bad Santa,” and utilize the alternate reality of “Elf” to come up with a unique film of their own.

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