The character of Peter Rabbit first burst into the world of pop entertainment back in 1902(!) as the star of the novel “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter. Flash-forward to 2018 and we find the rascal rabbit featured in his first big screen, 3D live-action/CGI animated “Peter Rabbit.” The film, like the similar “Paddington” series is set in England, and features British actors in the lead roles, and as the voices of all the featured animals. Peter, voiced by James Corden (“The Late Late Show with James Corden”), lives happily in the English countryside with his sisters and cousin, and follows his days of stealing vegetables from the garden of Mr. McGregor (Sam Neill).
While Mr. McGregor is constantly attempting to vanquish his animal invaders, they are being protected by his neighbor Bea (Rose Byrne), who has a love for the fluffy critters. During one of the battles with his furry trespassers, McGregor has a heart attack and passes. While this is a tragic occurrence, Peter and all his animal friends soon realize they can invade McGregor’s garden and house without any consequences. While Peter and friends are having an all out party in the abandoned house, McGregor’s nephew Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson of “Star Wars” fame), discovers he has inherited the estate from his uncle. Thomas being a city boy and London resident, wants no part of the estate, and heads out to the countryside to prepare the house for sale. When he enters the home, Thomas discovers the place in shambles, and encounters the animal invaders and runs them off. The appearance of Thomas begins a feud with Peter, who must use Bea as a shield during encounters between the two. Bea thinks her new friend Thomas likes Peter, but the two are secretly battling for supremacy. The constant fights between Peter and Thomas leads to a major accident to Bea’s house, which results in Thomas returning to London. Peter feels responsible for the accident and convinces Thomas to return to the country to make up with Bea.
Thanks to help from Peter and his furry and feathered friends, Thomas is able to reclaim the house he almost lost to a snobbish couple. Eventually all the characters end up in London, and as the saying goes, live happily ever after. The adventure/comedy features plenty of slapstick comedy to keep the kids entertained and the adults in the audience awake. As I did with the “Paddington” films, I really enjoyed the mixture of CGI animals and live actors, and all involved do a wonderful job. The aforementioned Gleeson, so steely and villainous in his role as General Hux in the new “Star Wars” movies, proves to be a great comedic actor, and is never upstaged by his CGI counterpart. Byrne is also effective in her role, and has previously proven her comedic chops in the “Neighbors” films. In addition, Corden is a perfect match for the voice of Peter, and gives the character a warm, yet rascally tone.
Personally, I love movies set in England, and this one is no exception. While “Peter Rabbit” is not quite on par with the “Paddington” films, the movie still provides a fun time at the cinema for kids and adults.
Rated PG, 3 Carrots (out of 4)