After watching the trailer for “Peter Rabbit” I was fully prepared to attack this movie with a furry vengeance like that movie with Brendan Fraser where he fights the forrest creatures whose title escapes me. It appeared to me as a dump-month kid flick that is trying to cash in on a 115 year-old property. Just add celebrity voices and a non-original story and we get a forgettable film not worth mentioning. The only problem is “Peter Rabbit” doesn’t fit any of those descriptions.
Peter Rabbit (James Corden), his three sisters (Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley, Elizabeth Debicki), and his cousin Benji (Colin Moody) are constantly stealing vegetables from farmer McGregor’s (Sam Neill) garden. When tragedy befalls McGregor, Peter must contend with his distant nephew (Domhnall Gleason) who intends to fix up and sell his newly inhereted farmhouse until he meets his neighbor Bea (Rose Byrne) and decides to stay. So what starts as a fight for the garden, escalates to a war for Bea’s affection.
Again I looked for ways this kid-ifed version of Peter Rabbit detoured from the original source material, and I found that writer’s Rob Lieber and Will Gluck with the later directing did well to steer clear of the Beatrix Potter stories. While they have been written with children in mind back in 1902 they consisted of the beating of children with sticks, the marrying of cousins, and kidnapping of children, albeit bunnies, but still. The film version is surprisingly charming, specifically the two human leads, Rose Byrne is as sweet as a Cadbury Egg, and Gleason gives a really good comedic performance as well as being a solid romantic lead. The rabbits led by Corden find that balance between cute and crafty. There are recurring gags throughout the film, and even if some don’t land, most are really funny, the rooster bit in the film is one that certainly worked on me every time. They even manage to follow the Disney model of dramaticlly taking out parents and farmers alike in order to give our heroes some much needed depth.
This is a great film for the 6 and up variety, even when the grown-up jokes go over their heads, they will be laughing along with you at the Home Alone-esque hijinks the bunnies get into. “Peter Rabbit” is super sweet and totally worth the time it takes for you to tear your kids away from the barrage of streaming services and spend a fun sit at the movies.