The character of Peter Rabbit will forever have a place in those sweet dreamers whose hearts were intent on epitomising a fantastical boy scout. His everlasting legacy has provided a figure to follow, and a sense of charm far too big to overcome. However, if 2018’s CGI, wisecracking, James Corden-voiced take shows us something, it’s that modern Hollywood is too greedy of a beast to run from.
Peter Rabbit is directed by Will Gluck, the same man behind films such as Friends with Benefits, Easy A, and Annie (2014 remake, of course). Our very own rabbit scoundrel is suitably voiced by James Corden, and he’s joined by an entourage composed of his fellow sisters – Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton Tail (voiced by Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, and Daisy Ridley respectively). Together, they embark on a heist that meets the end of Mr. Mcgregor (Sam Neill), paving the way for the arrival of his far more heinous nephew, Thomas Mcgregor, played by Domhnall Gleeson. Now they must find a way to get rid of him and secure their sacred place in Windermere.
Peter Rabbit is indeed a film riddled with tropes that are far too recognizable in today’s family films. There are culturally relevant pop songs, blatantly direct messages, and jokes you’ve laughed at fifty times too many. It’s a film that you’d expect to be sold out by a crowd that doesn’t surpass the age of 12. Yet, despite this lack of novelty, there is an element of harmless fun that most movies in the genre lack that Peter Rabbit just excels at.
Capitalized mainly by its charm, the film itself is a manifestation of the character of Peter Rabbit. He’s predictable yet reckless, unscrupulous yet whimsical, and most importantly, flawed yet charming. Even though it is James Corden being the most James Corden he’s ever been, it’s not the karaoke guy from the awkward talk show. Far from it (surprisingly), he accurately pulls off what is needed to give life to this (again, surprisingly) complex character. There is much growing to be had during the course of the film and it’s a fun ride to watch while being swayed by this larger-than-life nature.
The supporting cast is stellar as well, to the surprise of no one. Just like in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Domnhall Gleeson prevails at being the picked-on, clumsy comic relief, but this time coming from a determined rabbit rather than your average emo sith lord. Hey, he’s making a living off of this. In all fairness, much of his character’s appeal comes from the violent-brother dynamic between him and Peter Rabbit, both having the best of Bea (Rose Byrne) in mind. Furthermore, the sisters of Peter Rabbit transmit a charm of their own. The dynamic between them is fun to watch in its own right, even though their jig does get worn out far too early into the film.
Much like the Mcgregor’s garden, post-Sam Neill death, Peter Rabbit offers an affluence of riches and treats, yet there is an undeniable dark aura over it. Some elements are shabbily glossed over and some are eerily used way too much, but in the middle lies a balance that consists of a harmless good time with a protagonist that embodies the definition of charming.