“Peter Rabbit” stars James Corden, Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne, Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, Sia, and Sam Neill. Released on February 9, 2018, the film has Peter Rabbit facing some stiff competition when a new neighbor arrives next to his home.
The film is directed by Will Gluck, who also directed Fired Up, Easy A, Friends with Benefits, and the 2014 version of Annie. It is based on the character of the same name created by Beatrix Potter. After a brief three-month break, Sony Pictures Animation is getting the new year started by bringing this cuddly, yet mischievous, rabbit to the big screen. This is the latest attempt from Sony Pictures Animation to adapt the source material into a live-action/CGI hybrid film, having done so with The Smurfs back in 2011 as well as its 2013 sequel and the film adaptation of Goosebumps. With the exception of Paddington, the live-action/CGI films that are based on kid-friendly source materials are often criticized for their modernized uses of poop jokes and pop culture references to entertain the little ones. In other words, they’re being blamed for “ruining people’s precious childhoods”. Still one of the worst excuses in the history of ever. After experiencing the world of BDSM and the inspiring story behind the extraordinary act by three ordinary people, I figured I would end this weekend by exposing myself with something that’s more charming and family-friendly.
The film offers a simple, by-the-numbers story that involves a long-lasting feud between Peter Rabbit (Corden) and the McGregor family. When a new McGregor (Gleeson) moves in, things get a lot more complicated when he starts to fall in love with a friendly animal lover (Byrne) who lives next door. So, I guess you can call it a live-action Bugs Bunny vs Elmer Fudd cartoon. It can be predictable for the strong-minded, but it’s also a charming piece of kid-friendly entertainment for families who want an enjoyable treat for the ages. It’s not in the same veins as Paddington, but compared to Sony’s other live-action/CGI hybrids, this is by far their best one yet. The performances from the cast, both live-action and voice overs, were very likable from start to finish. Byrne and Gleeson were delightful together as Bea and Thomas McGregor, respectively. As for Corden as the title character, all I can say is that he fits the part very well in terms of Peter’s personality. This is Corden’s second collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation after working on last year’s The Emoji Movie as the voice of Hi-Five. I haven’t really got into Corden that much, but after watching this, I feel pretty excited to see what he’s got cooking up next. The animation that they used on the animals were generous enough to provide a blend of realism and imagination without looking too cartoony, although some of the CGI were quite noticeable during a couple of moments, especially the deer. If you’re being cautious on what the film might do to your childhood, I can assure you that there’s nothing to fear. Will Gluck was able to find a suitable path that focuses more on its cute storytelling and thoughtful messages rather than using cartoonish slapstick and pop culture references to generate some laughs. There was some slapstick in this movie, but it was laughable in a good way without taking it one step too far. There’s also this one joke that may rub some parents of kids with food allergens the wrong way, but it goes to show that comedy is not for everybody.
Overall, “Peter Rabbit” is as simple as eating a carrot, but it’s also as cuddly and attractive as an actual rabbit. With its charming cast, some suitable CGI, and its mixture of cute storytelling and acceptable laughs, this is another solid effort from Sony Pictures Animation. Hopefully, if Hollywood keeps this formula up like they did with Paddington and this movie, people would finally keep their mouths shut about their childhoods being ruined. I would definitely recommend it to families as well as those who are familiar with the source material.