Sunday, February 18, 2018

Movie Review: "Peter Rabbit" (2018)

Director: Will Gluck
Year: 2018
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Ringleader Peter Rabbit and his family try to force a man out of his inherited home and out of animal-lover Bea's life so they can have unlimited access to the garden and sp Peter can keep Bea's attention all to himself.

Judging by the trailer, we thought "Peter Rabbit" was going to be an absolute dumpster fire. Surprisingly, it's not absolute trash, but that doesn't exactly mean it's good. "Peter Rabbit" is directed by Will Gluck, who has directed films like "Easy A," "Friends With Benefits," and the 2014 remake of "Annie" (which we liked and everyone else hated). Gluck also helped write the screenplay with Rob Lieber and is, of course, adapted from the classic "Peter Rabbit" children's books by Beatrix Potter. The film revolves around a slightly anal-retentive neat freak named Thomas McGregor, played by Domhnall Gleeson, who recently inherited his uncle's country manor after he had a heart attack attempted to capture Peter Rabbit, voiced by James Corden, who keeps stealing from his garden. As soon as Thomas moves in, Peter is determined to get him to leave so the animals can regain unlimited access to the garden and its thriving fruit and veggie spread. Thomas isn't a big fan of the country at first since he hails from the bustling city of London, but after meeting his free-spirited neighbor Bea, played by Rose Byrne, he starts to appreciate living there and grows to enjoy her company. Since Bea is an animal lover and is kind to all of the local rabbits, her fondness for and friendship with Thomas makes Peter jealous and even more determined to get McGregor out of his home.

"Peter Rabbit" is a bit of a mixed bag for us, but we will admit, there's a lot more to enjoy about this movie than we expected. What we liked most was the sweet relationship between Domhnall Gleeson's Thomas and Rose Byrne's Bea, who are both slightly oddball characters in their own way. Their on-screen chemistry is wonderful and sort of precious. We also liked many of the sidekick animal characters like Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-Tail, voiced by Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, and Daisy Ridley. There is a good dose of self-aware humor that the adults in the crowd will appreciate, which means it's not all riddled with toilet humor. While most of the running gags are terrible, there was one that made us laugh each and every time it came up, and that's anything having to do with the rooster. Each new day marks a new and hilarious rooster joke, showing why he crows every morning. These jokes garnered big laughs from not only us but everyone in our crow as well.

These above goods are outweighed by the really big bad things. What we didn't like about "Peter Rabbit" was Peter Rabbit. Everything and anything involving Peter Rabbit. James Corden as Peter Rabbit. Peter Rabbit as a character. Peter Rabbit's demeanor. Peter's Rabbit's stupid jokes. Anything. Sure, the movie does have a few other things that aren't that great, but nothing is quite as bad as Peter Rabbit himself, which is a little sad considering he's the titular character. When we went into this film, we really didn't expect Peter Rabbit to feel like the villain of his own story, but there's no ifs, ands, or buts about it: he's the villain, straight up. It seems like Will Gluck and co. wanted Peter to be a lovable mischief-maker, a Bugs Bunny type of rascal, but honestly, Peter comes off like an obnoxious, twerpy asshole. Thomas McGregor, on the other hand, comes off as a victim who is assaulted on a regular basis by Peter and the gang of bunnies he has duped into doing his bidding. There is a clear turning point where Thomas was willing to let Peter and the others have access to the garden, yet they still attacked him and tried to get him to leave, nearly killing him on multiple occasions. This violence is meant to be Looney Tunes-style, over the top cartoon-style violence with little real-world consequences, though Peter does believe he successfully killed Thomas on at least one occasion.

There are several enjoyable elements in "Peter Rabbit," but the fact of the matter is Peter himself is such a horrible character that the entire picture suffers because of it. Considering he takes up a good 50% of the screen time, this keeps us from fully recommending this feature. Still, Sony Pictures Animation has put forth its best looking animated film to date in this rowdy comedic adventure, so that's got to count for something.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~58%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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