Published on March 16th, 2018 | by voxx0
Out: 16 March
Length: 95 minutes
Director: Will Gluck
Cast: James Corden, Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne, Margot Robbie
Plot: Peter’s (Corden) feud escalates to greater heights than ever before as they rival for the affections of the warm-hearted animal lover who lives next door (Byrne).
It’s quite fair to say that the first feature-length adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s beloved children’s book ‘Peter Rabbit’ has followed a recent influx in updating older stories to appeal to modern day audiences – namely director Paul King’s charming adaptation of ‘Paddington’, which won the hearts of millions worldwide thanks to a stunning British cast and a heart-warming story which brought audiences to tears and became Britain’s most successful animation. This was a success which then led to 2017’s sequel, the aptly named ‘Paddington 2′. This film largely follows in that respect. There’s a wide variety of big names, all of which make for a surprisingly stunning tale that’s sweet, warm, genuinely funny and unbelievably charming.
From the off it’s like ‘Paddington’, stunningly animated, similarly deploying the animation/live-action hybrid through beautifully executed animals so seamlessly that it rarely stands out. We start with Thomas McGregor (Gleeson), a man who moves to the country after losing a family member. He does everything he can to get rid of the local wildlife, and Peter (Corden) does what he can to get rid of him. Peter’s a likeable character here; on paper he’s essentially the four-legged carrot eating version of Ferris Bueller, with his zany wise-cracks, his jokes and his constant pranks on poor McGregor. However, there are many who may not enjoy such things, which ultimately says a lot for Corden’s characterization of Peter and for the film itself. Particularly on director Will Gluck’s approach, it’s mostly about the pranks (weaponising fruit, re-routing electrical wiring and placing garden tools in a bedroom). However, the film fails to delve into the deeper regions of Peter’s past apart from a singular hand-drawn snippet of Peter’s old life. While it touches on this, it never does enough to make you feel sympathetic for the character.
That said, Peter Rabbit is funny, charming and warm enough to happily glide through the story’s uneven swerve, and it’s also cute for the film to just barely get away with making a joke of McGregor’s blueberry allergy. There are a few standout jokes, such as a hilarious cockerel who wonders about the day-night cycle, an electrocuted hedgehog and the bigger punch line in Gleeson’s high-pitched scream at a pig, but unfortunately, like the story, the jokes fall apart too, mostly due to repetition. Yet, this updated version of Potter’s book series is still funny, charming and happily just about gets away with it.
VERDICT: While the story needs improvements, this live-action/animation hybrid adaptation makes for surprisingly joyous helpings of silliness and heart.
- By Corey Denford