Classic Beatrix Potter cotton-tailed yarn
With warm nostalgia for Beatrix Potter’s classic children’s tale, “Peter Rabbit” director, producer and co-writer Will Gluck channels the author’s earnestness into a sweet film sure to delight young fans.
Adults may find the plot predictable and the pacing a bit wanting, but the dynamic animation and beloved characters help compensate, as does the film’s cheeky self-awareness.
As in the book published in 1902, the story begins with Peter Rabbit (James Corden) disobeying his parents’ rules and sneaking into Old Mr McGregor’s vegetable garden for a snack.
Old Mr McGregor gives chase, but Peter and his trusty sidekick Benjamin Bunny (Colin Moody) elude capture.
All the running around gives the old man a heart attack, and Peter assumes all their problems are solved‚ until McGregor’s great-nephew moves in.
Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) is a tightly wound Londoner who resents relocating to the countryside to care for the property.
He’s apoplectic about missing a promotion at Harrods, and that irritation is compounded when he discovers his great-uncle’s house and garden are overrun with cotton-tailed cuties he calls “vermin.”
The rabbits’ savior‚ and maybe Thomas’, too‚ is Bea (Rose Byrne), an animal lover who lives next door.
Bea moved to the country to paint, and her best pieces recall Potter’s original “Peter Rabbit” illustrations.
Those illustrations come to life at various points during the film.
The simple, hand-drawn animation contrasts beautifully with the slick digital work that comprises most of the movie, inserting realistic-looking talking rabbits into live-action scenes with Byrne and Gleeson.
Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki and Daisy Ridley respectively voice Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail and add more gold dust in a wonderful movie.
There’s enough entertainment for parents here, and plenty of good-natured humor for kids. Stay past the credits for an extra dose of laughs.