Peter Rabbit 2 – movie review

Peter Rabbit was a delightful revelation when it was released in 2018, readily blending live action and animation. It brought us the tale of a recalcitrant bunny (the voice of James Corden) and his prickly relationship with Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson). You may recall Thomas inherited the farm next door to nature lover, Bea (Rose Byrne). Overcoming obstacles, the pair fell in love. Peter Rabbit 2 picks up where the original left off; as Thomas is about to say “I do” to Bea.

Peter and Thomas have settled their differences. Thomas has agreed to let Peter and his family – sisters Flopsy (the voice of Margot Robbie), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki) and Cottontail (Aimee Horne) and cousin Benjamin (Colin Moody) – have free reign over the farm as long as they don’t touch his prized tomatoes. Problem is Thomas still appears to be constantly catching out Thomas and as a result Thomas still doesn’t really trust Peter.

Meanwhile, Bea’s “Peter and friends” picture book – based upon her beautiful paintings – is selling well and she is courted by a hot shot publisher, Nigel Basil-Jones (David Oyelowo), who wants to expand her offering. While Bea is at first happy to keep things low key, positioning her animal family where they actually reside, Basil-Jones turns her head with opportunities beyond.
Among the ideas raised are individual books about each of the rabbits. When it comes to Peter’s turn, Basil-Jones suggests two titles, one of which Thomas immediately latches onto, positioning Peter as a “bad seed”.

A disconsolate Peter is subsequently befriended by an older rabbit, Barnabas (Lennie James), who has seen better days. Known for his thievery, Barnabas claims to have been good friends with Peter’s father … and takes Peter under his wing. Much plotting ensues, which sees Peter and his friends captured … and Thomas come to the rescue.

The best things about Peter Rabbit 2 are the one-liners and sight gags. Among the latter are the fox talked into adopting an exercise routine and the rooster’s crowing to mark sunrise. The narrated storyline, although thin, comes together, but overall the sequel didn’t capture my attention and enthrall me the way the first installment did. More’s the pity because I was keen to really like it.
I found it too childish and predictable, whereas I thought Peter Rabbit had enough in it to attract all ages. In short, I didn’t think Peter Rabbit 2 was substantive enough and suffered from a number of flat patches.

I dare say that has much to do with the writing (the writers Will Gluck and Patrick Burleigh – the former also directs), which – although pointing to moments of brilliance – was unable to sustain a high mark. Gluck wrote Peter Rabbit with Rob Lieber, based upon the characters and tales by Beatrix Potter. Youngsters may get more out of Peter Rabbit 2 than I did. Call it the curse of the sequel.

Alex First

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