Hot Take: While it isn’t quite true to Beatrix Potter’s source material, Peter Rabbit has plenty of laughs. It’s more like Bugs Bunny than Peter Rabbit but, for the most part, it actually works.
If you’re looking for the storybook tale of Peter Rabbit, the hybrid live action and animation film Peter Rabbit based on the same characters takes many liberties. As a matter of fact, it goes for a more crass, less gentle and overly slapstick version of the characters many have fallen in love with as a child. It’ll likely work for new audiences, especially younger audiences (under 10 years old), as there won’t be any preconceived notions about how the characters should act. This is Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit if it were to get locked in a convenience store overnight, survival instinct kicked in and Peter ate all of the chocolate and downed all of the Red Bull.
While purists should beware, Peter Rabbit seemingly finds many ways to entertain including a handful of laugh out loud moments which is always impressive for the kid’s stuff. James Corden provides the voice for the titular character while Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki and Colin Moody provide the voices for Cottontail, Flopsy, Mopsy and Benjamin. Robbie pulls double duty as the film’s narrator as well. On the live action side, Domhnall Gleeson and Rose Byrne are the main characters while Sam Neill also makes a brief appearance as Peter Rabbit’s nemesis Mr. McGregor. However, in this tale, McGregor dies of a heart attack and his nephew, played by Gleeson, steps into his shoes. The nephew must try to control his hatred for rabbits as he’s fallen in love with Bea (Byrne) who lives next to the McGregor house and provides care for the rabbits after the original Mr. McGregor ate Peter’s dad.
Featuring slick animation blended with live action, a bombastically poppy soundtrack and a slapstick-leaning humor, Peter Rabbit will definitely appeal to children. There’s not as much here for adults but it’s not pure kid’s stuff, either. Depending on how sacred you hold the tale of Peter Rabbit and the original will really impact how much you care for this more contemporary update. It is much better than the trailer would indicate and more harmless than the criticisms regarding its condoning of allergy bullying would have you believe. Would the movie have been better if Peter Rabbit had stuck to its roots? It’s hard to say. It might have struggled with the contemporary, young audience. Then again, at least the older audience who grew up with the Beatrix Potter books would have felt more connected.
You’ve been waiting for a Looney Tunes-style update to the Beatrix Potter classic.
Stay away from my children’s classics!!!