Of the four kids movies out these school holidays, I was the least interested in Peter Rabbit. I mean, I hate the TV show on the ABC–really, really, truly hate it. Peter is such a jerk! He messes things up for everyone all the time, and steals, and generally spends his time being the worst. He’s like Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends. Can’t they just get things right for one day?!
(As you can tell I’ve watched far too much ABC over the past six years and now I can’t be sensible about things any more.)
Still, I ended up seeing Peter Rabbit after all because, well, I’ll see anything if it means I can sit in a dark cinema and hoover down a bucket of popcorn without feeling bad about it. And it turns out that Peter Rabbit is hilarious. I’ve never heard the Rocket laugh so hard in a movie before, and I was doing a kind of screech-laugh, and there was a grandpa behind me who was honking whenever the rooster came on the screen, and it was just very, unexpectedly, super good.
Peter Rabbit, is a rabbit who is still a bit of a jerk, and is in charge of his family since his father got baked in a pie and his mother died. He provides for his sisters Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail and his cousin Benjamin, with their able assistance, by stealing food from the lush vegetable garden of Farmer McGregor, who in turn spends his time being eternally stressed about getting his food stolen. Luckily for Peter and his pals, McGregor’s neighbour, Bea, is a total delight who helps save them from McGregor’s clutches and cares deeply for them. When McGregor keels over from a heart attack one day, the rabbits think they have free reign of his garden and house–but alas, McGregor’s terribly uptight and cleanliness-obsessed nephew, Thomas McGregor, has inherited the house. It’s good timing for him, frankly, since he’s just been fired from his toyshop job after a public meltdown when he was overlooked for a promotion he deserved. Thomas intends to fix up McGregor’s house and sell it, but then he meets Bea, whose kind and funny nature appeals instantly to him. Sadly, however, he also meets Peter and all his friends, who have trashed his house–and he wants them out. Basically, it’s all hijinks from here on in, and both Peter and Thomas are good guys and bad guys, which makes things much more interesting than if Thomas was a straight villain. Instead, he’s a normal-ish human who thinks the rabbits are conspiring against him, which of course they are, but of course in the real world rabbits aren’t really like that (or are they?!) so no one believes him. There are explosions and jokes and sad moments and good moments and a travel montage and it is really, very quite good.
I am, however, entirely sick of Peter Rabbit’s voice. Here, he’s played by James Corden, who needs to take a break from voicing movie characters and move on to something else. He’s also been in Trolls as Biggie, and The Emoji Movie as Hi-5, and since he has the exact same voice for all of the characters, I’m a bit over it. Maybe he could do a different accent next time or something? I don’t mind when famous actors voice movie characters, but when they seem to only get hired for doing the same thing over and over again, it gets a bit stale. The other actors were excellent, though, and my only other complaint is the bit about the allergies. Now, this made it all over the news already, but what happens is that Thomas tells Bea he’s allergic to blackberries, Peter makes fun of him for it, Benjamin tells him to quit it, Peter looks at the camera and says the filmmakers don’t want to get any letters, and then later on they use Thomas’s allergy against him in a fight. It’s a jerky thing to do, but Peter rabbits on about it so much (ha! what a great joker I am) that it makes the joke seem extra forced, and then it’s just kind of not funny. I’m sure most kids are smart enough not to deliberately poison someone, but also, since it’s actually happened recently in the news, it feels weird to laugh about it. There are plenty of other, better jokes in it, and this is the first movie from the Autumn holiday batch that I’ll be buying when it comes out on DVD.