tue 16/10/2018

DVD/Blu-ray: Peter Rabbit | reviews, news & interviews

DVD/Blu-ray: Peter Rabbit

DVD/Blu-ray: Peter Rabbit

Frenetic Beatrix Potter update gives us a leporine the author could never have imagined

Give us your carrots... Peter Rabbit and friends on the offensive

That this Peter Rabbit took more money in the UK than Disney's sublime Coco is a tad depressing. I know I’m no longer a member of the film’s target demographic, but I can imagine many under-tens being underwhelmed by Will Gluck’s family comedy. We live in a golden age of children’s cinema, the recent Paddington sequel showing that it’s possible to update canonical source material with wit and affection.

Tonally, Peter Rabbit is a mess, an unsavoury stew of mean-spirited slapstick held together with the flimsiest of plots. And maybe I’m being over sensitive, but aren’t many of the gags misplaced? Ramming a carrot up a pensioner’s backside and inducing an anaphylactic shock with soft fruit could be mirthsome in certain contexts, but neither belongs in a children's film.

The whole thing is curiously devoid of charm

Gluck and Rob Lieber’s screenplay unfolds in an updated, unnaturally sunny Lake District, where Peter and his cronies are fighting an unending battle against Sam Neill’s Mr McGregor. Who’s sadly underused, shuffling off just a few minutes in, meaning that his house and vegetable garden are inherited by uptight great-nephew Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson). Fired from his managerial post at Harrods, Thomas heads north to size up said property before selling it, falling for new neighbour Bea (Rose Byrne) whose watercolour portraits of the local fauna are a nod to these stories’ origins.

The references to Beatrix Potter’s source material are the film’s redeeming feature, and the CGI critters are rendered with charm and skill. A shame then that Peter, voiced by James Corden, is such an unappealing brute of a lead, an arrogant bully whose hyperactive antics rapidly become wearing. The hour-long battle between rabbits and human soon involves explosives and electric fences – great fun in a 10-minute Tex Avery short, but not here. A gurning Gleeson and his nemesis are made to see the error of their ways, and the film doesn’t so much conclude as grind to a halt.

It’s all visually appealing, the exteriors presumably shot in Sydney for weather reasons, and Rose Byrne offers stirling support. But the whole thing is curiously devoid of charm. Blu-ray extras include a "Making Of" documentary plus a couple of supplementary shorts. A sequel is already in the works. Read the books instead!

Ramming a carrot up a pensioner’s backside doesn't belong in a children's film

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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