It seems that 2018 is THE year for live-action/CG-hybrid adaptations of beloved British children’s literature featuring anthropomorphic characters, with Paddington 2 being released last month and now Peter Rabbit this weekend. And while I absolutely adored Paddington 2, I just enjoyed Peter Rabbit.
Here’s the official synopsis from the studio:
Peter Rabbit, the mischievous and adventurous hero who has captivated generations of readers, now takes on the starring role of his own irreverent, contemporary comedy with attitude. In the film, Peter’s feud with Mr. McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) escalates to greater heights than ever before as they rival for the affections of the warm-hearted animal lover who lives next door (Rose Byrne). James Corden voices the character of Peter with playful spirit and wild charm, with Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, and Daisy Ridley performing the voice roles of the triplets, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail.
It’s hard to imagine a better cast than the one that has assembled. I absolutely adore Domhnall Gleeson and will watch almost anything he does, and here he provides a very convincing slapstick comedic performance. This is probably the most charming role I’ve ever seen Rose Byrne in. And the triplets are played by the powerhouse trio of Margo Robbie (Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad), Elizabeth Debicki (Ayesha, the golden monarch, in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2), and Daisy Ridley (Rey from the Star Wars films). They bring a wonderful amount of banter and wit to their roles and really bring those characters to life.
Oddly, the only character that didn’t work for me was James Cordon’s Peter Rabbit. The modernization of the character through Cordon’s swagger and the constant use of modern pop music detract from more than help in crafting a relatable story. In short, Peter is a selfish jerk.
The trailers for the film seem to sell it as pure slapstick, but I think this was a bit misleading in order to get small children excited about it. Although this element is definitely present throughout the film, there are so many other clever jokes. I actually found myself to be the only one laughing at certain jokes because of how subtly clever they were. The humor is definitely British, which I suppose can be good or bad depending on your preferences.
The story does have heart, however it never rises to level of a Pixar or a Paddington film. It has a very good moral and is remarkably clean. There are fortunately no fart or fecal jokes.
Despite not having much reverence for its source material, Peter Rabbit is a fun family film with enough humor for all ages. It features mostly wonderful performances by some of the best young talent that Britain and Australia have to offer.