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Dan's Review: "Peter Rabbit" is good for a little mischief

Feb 09, 2018 06:11PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Peter Rabbit - © 2018 Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Peter Rabbit (Sony/Columbia Pictures)

Rated PG for some rude humor and action.

Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne, Sam Neill, (voices of) James Corden, Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, Matt Lucas, Sia.

Written by Will Gluck and Rob Lieber, based on the children's book by Beatrix Potter.

Directed by Will Gluck.

GRADE: B+

REVIEW:

There’s a rebel in most of us, wanting to break the rules, have a little fun and stick it to “The Man” every once in a while. That’s the basic theme of Peter Rabbit, the live/animated mash-up of Beatrix Potter’s famous children’s books, published in the early 1900s.

James Corden voices the titular bunny, who occupies mist of time by stealing vegetables from Farmer MacGregor (Sam Neill), an elderly fellow who intends to capture Peter and put him in a pie (as he did with Peter’s father years before). Peter lives in a hollow under a tree with his sisters Flopsy (Margot Robbie, who also narrates the story), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki) and Cottontail (Daisy Ridley). Peter’s companion during his capers is Benjamin (Matt Lucas). During one of Peter’s veggie larcenies, MacGregor keels over and dies. The farm ends up in the ownership of his nephew Thomas (Donmhnall Gleeson), an uptight retail manager who lives in London. Thomas goes to the country, but only to get the farm sold. When he arrives, he discovers that Peter and all the country animals have taken over the house for a week of debauchery and partying. An immediate rivalry ensues, but Thomas is sidetracked by Bea (Rose Byrne), a beautiful neighbor and artist who befriends and paints Peter and his furry pals. A romance develops between the neighbor, as Peter works his mischief to make life miserable for Thomas to influence his hasty departure. Mayhem follows, as Peter and Thomas take things a little too far, causing Bea to doubt her feelings for Thomas, while Peter’s family and friends suffer collateral damage due to his antics.

Peter Rabbit is surprisingly fun, for kids and adults. The computer-generated animals are brought to life by a talented and well-matched voice cast, especially Corden. Most of the jokes work, with a few self-aware gags that break the “fourth wall.” Domhnall Gleeson plays the rabbit's foil to extreme comic degrees, as if he's offering a rendition of "General Hux's country adventures." It's often a little too silly, but the effect is adequate.

You can forgive some of the sillier moments, especially when Corden’s personality shines through as the irreverent rabbit. Peter Rabbit is less of a children’s morality tale and more of a Bugs Bunny cartoon, with generous amounts of impish behavior. It’s good to drop pretense and let loose for a little harmless fun, and Peter Rabbit is the perfect vehicle for such naughtiness.


Peter Rabbit Trailer

Arts+Entertainment movies movie reviews Children's Literature

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