After the pleasant surprise that everyone had with Paddington 2 not too long ago, it was only a matter of time for another CGI character to have its own movie that gonna make a ton at the box office and probably be terrible like Peter Rabbit that’s tailor-made for the family. Surely one of the most anticipated family movies of the year (sarcasm).
What’s the Story?: The mischievous Peter Rabbit (James Corden) and his three sisters Flopsy (voiced by Margot Robbie), Mopsy (voiced by Elizabeth Debicki), and Cotton-Tail (voiced by Daisy Ridley) and cousin Benjamin (Colin Moody) are enjoying the lifestyle of stealing vegetables from Mr. McGregor’s garden. Though it might not be too easy when a relative of McGregor, Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson), moves in and keeps all the animals out but starts to get along with Bea (Rose Byrne), a mother figure to the rabbits.
A movie based on Beatrix Potter’s famous creation doesn’t sound like a terrible idea if it happened about ten years ago. I don’t remember reading her books when I was young, but it’s always been considered a classic character in literature. But now since these movies are being made for young children, it going to come off as an annoying family film that adults probably won’t like. Every time they show the trailer before a movie, it’s almost torture, and I don’t know why I didn’t wait outside until it’s over. Not to mention that Will Gluck directing this was already a red flag. Could we ever forget how he handled 2014’s Annie (worst remake of the decade)? Just thinking that the decision of renting this was gonna be a mistake, Peter Rabbit wasn’t the absolute worst movie to come out, but it’s still not good either.
In these ages, family films that are based on books or cartoons always tend to target its young audience with popular trends that are recent with today’s culture. Unlike The Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks, or even Garfield, Peter Rabbit is at least better than most live-action/CGI hybrids that are based on well-known properties. Speaking of which, the CGI for all the animals aren’t too bad and kinda realistic with the fur on them.
The problem with Peter Rabbit is that there wasn’t any amount of charm to this adaptation. Some may think there are heartwarming when it comes between Peter and Bea, but it wasn’t even convincing enough for me to care. The charm is mostly replaced with dumb slapstick that’s annoying in family films when it’s done wrong. It even looks like the animals are trying to kill McGregor a few times when they set bear traps or being shocked multiple times when trying to leave his house.
Cordon seemed like the right actor to voice the titular character. And while I’m always mixed with him because he can be funny but also tries too hard sometimes, the British comedian and the Late Late Show host proves to be a talent when it comes to comedic roles. But aside from the voice, I really can’t side with Peter. He’s kind of a jerk and even he’s being told he’s doing the wrong thing.
The most committed performance in here surprisingly goes to Gleeson, who does try his best when working with the comic side that requires him to do physical comedy and being over-the-top with madness when trying to get rid of these animals in his garden. Fun fact: Brendan Gleeson, his father, was in The Smurfs 2. Weird connection, right? But poor Byrne is another movie where she doesn’t have much to do but to be the beautiful lady next door Thomas is trying to gain over.
Not only does the humor not work, but it’s almost painful to watch every joke fall through. The only time I genuinely laughed was this recurring gag with a Rooster who is always surprised that the sun has come up. I was just waiting for that character to come back again. And even when there’s a funny joke that makes fun of a cliche moment that’s been done before, I’ll give the movie some effort because we all thought that, too.
After the movie came out, the film actually had a controversial scene where the rabbits serve Thomas blackberries, which he stated early that he’s allergic to. Honestly, it was a terrible stupid scene since deadly allergies should never be funny, especially if this was teaching kids to defeat bullies is the torture them with something that could easily kill them and have a reaction.
And this is something that I always found annoying in kids’ movies that some won’t have an issue with: The overuse of pop songs in these movies always bothered me. Not only did they play “Feel It Still” by Portugal. The Man (used painfully in the trailers), they also played Len’s “Steal My Sunshine”, Vampire Weekend’s “Cousins”, and many others. They even had the balls to actually have their own version of Fort Minor’s “Remember the Name”. Didn’t Smurfs 2 use that along as well?
It wasn’t funny, clever, or doesn’t think its way through to being faithful to the source material. Almost makes Potter rolling in her grave the same way when the first trailer came out. What I found worse is that this gotten a more positive response than Ghostbusters. I completely don’t understand why this is the opposite effect for me. Am I the dumb one in this case? They already have plans to develop a sequel for Peter Rabbit, because of course, so I’m just hoping I will give a better response to an unnecessary kids movie.
Peter Rabbit clearly shows that it can be entertaining for kids’, but this adaptation has no charm and is obnoxious all over.