Lovely and fun family friendly homage to the classic story of the mischievous rabbit, using all the talents of the modern animation techniques as well as some very skillful voice and pantomiming actors.
WHO SHOULD GO: Very family friendly for all ages (despite the stupid controversy about the "allergy bullying" – see my other blog on this: WEIGHING IN ON THE PETER RABBIT “CONTROVERSY”). Take everyone from the youngest who will sit through a feature length film to the Grandparents. Everyone will find something to enjoy.
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Domhnall Gleeson is a good sport. Son of the immensely talented Brendan Gleeson who has appeared in everything from Tom Cruise's sci fi Live, Die, Repeat to Mad Eyed Moody in the Harry Potter franchise, Domhnall does not fall far from that gifted tree.
Domhnall Gleeson has appeared in Star Wars as the new and somewhat comedically incompetent baddie, General Hux, occasionally thrown unceremoniously around by a miffed Kylo Ren. He has appeared often with his brothers and father in genres from dark comedy (Calvary) to rom-com fantasy (About Time) to an American western (True Grit). He's been shot, tossed, wolf bitten, has murdered his own real life brother as a modern day Cain in Mother! and fallen in love with an android (Ex Machina).
Irish born and naturally heavily accented, he nonetheless has solid command of a variety of accents. He's been an iconic upper class British writer (A. A. Milne in Goodbye, Christopher Robin) and an over the top American CIA agent (American Made). There's a boyish charm he exudes, even in his darkest roles, which makes his characters inherently likeable, especially as he endures whatever indignities required of his roles with an amused sangfroid even when it's against a green screen necessitating pantomime.
But no where is he required to endure more humiliations with a smile against an imaginary antagonist than in Peter Rabbit.
The premise is that Old Man MacGregor, portrayed briefly in broad good natured ranting and raving by
Sam (Jurassic Park) Neill, bequeathes his farm to his great nephew, Thomas. My daughter, Elizabeth, pointed out that once again, in Peter Rabbit, Sam Neil tackles intelligent animals out to get him. LOL
Domhnall's Thomas is as precise in his habits as Phileas Phogg and as cantankerous and anti-wildlife as his rabbit pie eating Uncle. He moves into the MacGreor house with the intention of selling it but the anthropomorphized animals will have none of it. Peter's coat wearing, wise cracking, English speaking rabbit family are as anxious to be rid of this new human interloper as he is of them.
The adorable complicating factor in all of this is Bea (presumably a version of "BEA"atrix Potter, the author of the original Peter Rabbit stories, who mothers the rabbits and lovingly paints them, with whom Peter has attached and in whom Thomas falls immediately in love. This sets off a series of comical incidents where each side tries to do away with the other all while pretending to be pals for the sake of Bea.
While the stuff of Shakespearean tragedy, this is a kids' film and, as such, you can be sure that subsequent to a series of outrageous hijinx all will be well that will end well.
Domhnall, during the course of the film is beaten, tripped, electrically shocked, subjected to animal traps, used as a bulleye's in uncomfortable places with well aimed vegetables, kicked, bitten and wrestled with by —- nothing. He didn't even have the benefit of the voice actors nearby.
James Cordan (who appears in two Dr. Who's as a love lorn fellow tenant of a town house then again as the same character, now as a well meaning but overwhelmed father) does the voice of Peter. By his own description, Cordan was working in his pajamas in England, while the intrepid Mr. Gleeson was sweating it out in 100 degree Australian heat pretending to be in the far cooler northern rural U.K.
In interviews, Gleeson good naturedly describes how he hurt himself early and often during the course of the filming – wrenching and bruising ankles, back, ribs – as he leaps, falls,
slams into furniture and generally gets banged around.
All for a good cause as my two grandsons loved the movie. The littlest laughed hardest whenever Pigling Bland appeared to aristocratically gorge himself on whatever happened to be within reach.
The movie is good natured and silly, Peter on steroids, as the slightly mischievous bunny of the books becomes a ninja-like, almost superhuman terror, turning the young MacGregor's modern gizmos back onto his unwary human antagonist.
Both Thomas and Peter must ultimately come to terms on behalf of the sweet Bea but it's their rivalry that provides the most entertainment as Peter is more Bugs Bunny than Potter and Thomas would definitely be able to empathize with Elmer Fudd.
The voice acting is enthusiastic and bright.
Margo Robbie of Suicide Squad narrates and speaks for Flopsy.
Elizabeth Debicki from both Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Valerian is Mopsy. And in a creative, if not physical, reunion
Daisy Ridley rejoins her Star Wars alumni, Domhnall, in the cast as Cotton-Tail. Each actress provides a cute and distinctive personality to the triplet sisters.
Take your little ones to go see this adorable homage to the classic rabbit tail — I mean tale. Although, honestly, some of the sight gags are repeated a bit too much as though they are dragging out their run time, at the end the audience I attended with applauded. My grandsons enjoyed it and that is endorsement enough. And rest assured, this Peter Rabbit will find something for every age in your family at which to chuckle.