My childhood is filled with wonderful memories of the many books I had the pleasure reading. From Dr Seuss to Maurice Sendak, the marriage of words and pictures brought great happiness and wonderment to my young impressionable mind. One story I remember reading was Beatrix Potter’s The Tail of Peter Rabbit. With it’s beautiful artwork and clever wit, Beatrix’s story connected with me at an early age.
As the conversion of classic stories have been retooled for modern cinema, it was only a matter of time until Peter Rabbit made it’s way. When I discovered this classic story had been adapted to the silver screen, naturally I was interested.
Directed by Will Gluick, the movie adaption of Peter Rabbit is a big departure from the Beatrix Potter source material. While not a huge surprise, it’s always a little disappointing when a classic is repurposed for modern times.
Peter Rabbit tells the story of Peter (James Corden), and his three siblings Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki) and Cottontail (Daisy Ridley) and their struggle with Farmer McGregor (Sam Neill).
As in the original, it’s message of never giving up is still resonates but unlike the original, we see modern twists to this classic. For starters, Farmer McGregor is no longer the main antagonist due to to a life ending event. As Peter and his siblings are raiding farmer McGregor’s garden, Mr. McGregor suddenly collapses from a heart attack and dies. Of course thinking he got the best of the old farmer, Peter thinks the farm and it’s bountiful garden are his to keep. This is where the movie becomes a predictable Home Alone-like infused gag reel.
Upon learning of his death, McGregor’s nephew Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson) inherits the estate and brings forth a whole new twist of “Tom and Jerry” theatrics. Along for the ride is the rabbit-loving neighbor, Bea (Rose Byrne) who quickly becomes the voice of reason in the battle between rabbit and farmer.
While I enjoyed some aspects of this revision, it never quite captured the warmth and magic that I remember as a child. How could it? As an adult, I now view things with a jaded lens and unfortunately see how formulaic our entertainment industry has become. While Peter Rabbit tried bringing a modern take on a classic tale, it’s charm was lost in translation. Gone are the teachable moments and their place are childish pranks authored by a cocky, unlikeable rabbit. Oh well, maybe one day we’ll get a sincere take on Lyle, Lyle the Crocodile but I’m not holding my breath.
Rating: 2.5 stars
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).
Cast: Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, Sam Neill
Voice cast: Daisy Ridley, Elizabeth Debicki, with Margot Robbie and James Corden as Peter Rabbit.
Directed by: Will Gluick
Based on the Characters and Tales of “Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter