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Peter Rabbit - A sweet but uneven adaptation of the beloved childrens story

by Roisin Gordon. Published Sun 25 Mar 2018 20:48

Peter Rabbit is undoubtedly one of Beatrix Potter’s most famous creations, beloved for his cute and mischievous nature, as well as the numerous adventures he has with his friends.

Now the character finally gets his own cinematic treatment, with this modernised live-action adaptation. Whilst it does have some sweet and funny moments, it doesn’t completely capture the essence of the character.

The story follows Peter Rabbit (James Corden), who constantly sneaks into the garden of Mr McGregor (Sam Neill) to steal his vegetables and cause constant mischief.

When McGregor suddenly dies, Peter and his friends think they are free from him at last and celebrate by taking over his house and helping themselves to the vegetables from his garden.

However things turn upside down soon enough, when Peter gets a new rival in the form of McGregor’s great-nephew Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson), an uptight city boy who has inherited the cottage which he plans to renovate so he can sell it.

Much like his uncle, Thomas takes an instant disliking to Peter and goes to many lengths to keep him out of the garden.

Things get worse when Thomas begins a romance with local neighbour Bea (Rose Byrne), who is a mother figure to Peter and his family and stirs further jealousy in him. Peter decides that enough is enough and assembles his friends to get rid of the new McGregor once and for all.

In some respects, the film does look like it’s trying to stay faithful to Beatrix Potter’s stories whilst also updating it for a modern audience, but some of the choices that were made just didn’t fit properly with the nature of the story.

It also seemed like the filmmakers didn’t know what tone they were going for. It felt like they wanted to capture the charm and warmth of the Paddington movies, but be edgy and throw in pop culture references like the Shrek movies.

As a result, the film feels like a bit of a creative mess, although it doesn’t mean that they didn’t put any effort into the film at all.

Moments such as Peter’s backstory which is told through a beautiful animation sequence, that is based upon Beatrix Potter’s original illustrations, serves as a touching homage to Potter’s work and captures the sweet nature of the stories.

The design of the CG characters do look cute and stays faithful to the look of the original characters. It managed to be impressive visual work and even worked well when having them interact with the human characters.

The comedy in the film was pretty hit and miss. There were moments where the humour tried to be self-aware and edgy, such as Peter constantly pointing out his own character flaw, but it just didn’t fit well with the tone of this story.

However, the recurring jokes such as the rooster being in disbelief at the sun rising and the pig who claims to be on a diet but eats everything in sight, provided a few laughs and seemed better suited to the material.

Speaking of moments that didn’t fit the nature of the story, the decision to include a soundtrack filled with pop songs felt too out of place and distracting. Whilst many children’s films have included pop soundtracks, it usually tends to fit the tone of their film and it definitely wasn’t the case here.

How many people would normally listen to We No Speak Americano, and immediately think of Peter Rabbit?

James Corden felt miscast as the voice of Peter Rabbit, who is meant to be a youthful and energetic character.

Whilst Corden has proven to be a great comedic actor and sounds like he is trying to put as much effort into the role as he can, it seems like the role should have been voiced by a younger actor.

However Peter’s triplet sisters, who were voiced by Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie and Elizabeth Debicki, all gave decent voice work that managed to fit their individual character as well as provide a few laughs.

Domhnall Gleeson and Rose Byrne’s characters felt a little one-dimensional and at times cliched. However both of them managed to deliver decent enough performances with what they were given to work with, and their on-screen chemistry was sweet to watch.

Whilst there are some cute and funny moments, this modern adaptation of Peter Rabbit doesn’t completely work but young children might enjoy it.

Purple Revolver Rating: 3.5/5- Sweet but not a classic


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