Movie Review: Peter Rabbit
Peter Rabbit, which is based on Beatrix Potter’s beloved children's books, was released in theaters on February 9th. While a departure from the original books in many ways, the film does follow the classic animosity between Peter and Mr. McGregor. James Corden headlines the film as the voice of Peter while Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, and Daisy Ridley provide the voices for Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail. Rose Byrne plays an animal loving resident named Bea while Sam Neill and Domhnall Gleeson each portray a member of the McGregor family.
The film begins with Peter’s routine of stealing vegetables from the elderly Mr. McGregor (Neill). Peter is joined by his sisters and their cousin, Benjamin, who all help keep a lookout on these ventures through McGregor’s garden. On one particular occasion, Peter is caught while retrieving his iconic blue shirt; however, he manages to escape after Mr. McGregor experiences a heart attack. Peter, his family, and all of their other animal friends help themselves to McGregor’s garden and his house after the incident, only to be disrupted by the untimely arrival of McGregor’s great-nephew, Thomas (Gleeson). Peter and his family concentrate on getting rid of Thomas for access to the garden, but their fight deepens when Thomas begins to win the affections of their friend/caretaker, Bea (Byrne).
First and foremost, I do realize that this movie targets families and specifically younger children, and in that vein, I found it to be a cute movie. The first trailers for this made me shutter, but thankfully, the final product was not quite as cringeworthy. The movie itself is comical and fast moving with the central conflict between Peter and a Mr. McGregor still being the focus. However, it is quite the departure from the original material with Peter being more irreverent and even more of a rebel. With Corden voicing the character of Peter, though, he still manages to be a charming, lovable rabbit despite his flaws. In fact, I found the voice cast to be impeccable, and I appreciate that they were able to give distinct personalities to each of the rabbits in Peter’s family.
Some of my favorite parts of the movie, though, were found in the little things. I thought that Rose Byrne’s character was incredibly charming, and I loved that they used her a way to commemorate the author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter. Only named “Bea” in the movie, Byrne’s character shares a love of animals and illustrations with the real life author of these short stories. I also loved the way they utilized the original illustrations from her books as Bea’s artwork. It was a charming connection, and while Gleeson’s character was completely over-the-top, he still ends up being a suitable opponent for Peter. I also appreciated how they incorporated an animal’s point of view in many circumstances. I found myself chuckling at Peter calling an ambulance an “ice cream truck with lights” and how he filters his understanding of what’s going on through his rabbit perspective.
I can admit that Peter Rabbit won’t be anywhere close to my list of top films for the year, but it was a cute animated film for the family. It’s currently receiving a bit of backlash for a scene involving food allergies, but outside of that, I think it’s a picture that families can enjoy together. All of the children and families in my theater were laughing hardily throughout the entire film, which honestly increased my enjoyment of it. It’s slightly ridiculous at times, but it’s also a movie about a talking rabbit. It pays homage to its source material in several lovely ways, and the animation was extremely well done. If you are looking for a movie for you and the kids to enjoy, then I would say that Peter Rabbit is a viable option.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.