Watson Reviews: Peter Rabbit

We are in an era where Hollywood is taking sturdy, classic literature and giving it a modern, ironic twist.  A lot of times, that cheeses off the fans of the original work.  Well, it is now Peter Rabbit‘s turn, and the studios are bringing him to audiences with a 21st century, wisecracking take.

The book on which the film is based was not a big part of my childhood, so I went into things with a completely open mind.  What did I think?

I gotta say, I liked it.  This was a smart, hilarious, and even warm take on a book I read as a child, but obviously didn’t treasure.  Of course, I am sort of iconoclastic, so even if they remake my old chestnuts in a new form, I don’t mind.  Except for putting The Watchmen in the DC Universe.  THAT IS JUST HERESY!

Well, here it actually isn’t a modern remake of the original story.  It is more of a sequel or continuation of the old story.  Old Man McGregor, played early by Sam Neill (that cameo in Thor 3 with Matt Damon that I missed…) gives way to his long-lost nephew Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens and to a much lesser extent The Last Jedi.  Much lesser…).

The film’s conflict stems from Gleeson’s battles with Peter after inheriting the farm and looking to sell it to buy a toy story…preferably next to Harrod’s…so they can witness their downfall first hand!  Gleeson’s McGregor is a very interesting character in that…while cartoonish in his battles with Peter…legitimately seems to care about neighbor and mother figure to the rabbits, Rose Byrne (X-Men: First Class).  

The whole cast delivered on a fun and promising script.  James Corden (The Late, Late Show) was excellent as the lead; infusing Peter with wit, charm, and depth when needed.  Byrne was her usual, amazing self.  She embodies the rural artist who wants everyone to live in harmony.  Damn, hippies.

But it was Domhnall Gleeson that was the anchor of the film for me.  We have seen the “antagonist dating the female lead who doesn’t know he’s the bad guy” angle before, but in many ways, Gleeson’s sincere affection for Byrne (the pair have surprisingly great chemistry) makes the motivations of Peter all the more interesting.

Peter Rabbit is a film that both parents and kids can enjoy.  A little serious subject matter (death of humans AND rabbits are present), but definitely all ages.

Overall, I give PETER RABBIT 8.5 “Surprising Sunrises” out of 10.

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