Peter Rabbit - 2018
Director(s): Will Gluck
Writer(s): Will Gluck & Rob Lieber (screenplay) / Beatrix Potter (characters and tales)
Cinematography by: Peter Menzies Jr.
Editor(s): Christian Gazal and Jonathan Tappin
Cast: James Corden, Domhnall Gleeson, Sam Neill, Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley and Rose Byrne
Synopsis: Feature adaptation of Beatrix Potter's classic tale of a rebellious rabbit trying to sneak into a farmer's vegetable garden (IMDB).
Peter Rabbit is the type of movie you almost immediately roll your eyes at when you first see the trailer. Sony Pictures Animation is very hit or miss with their movies and movies with talking CGI animals are rarely a good movie at all (Yogi Bear, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Garfield to name a few). But, after watching Paddington 2, the rare exception to this rule, I had hopes for this movie. While it didn’t reach the level of Paddington (very few movies will), this movie was incredibly charming, funny and very entertaining for the entire family.
One of the aspects that impressed me the most about this movie was Will Gluck’s direction. He kept up a fast pace throughout the movie, never letting his audience get bored by unnecessary scenes. Every single second served the story either in moving the plot forward or delivering a funny line for the audience. Gluck and cinematographer Peter Menzies Jr. also shot the movie extremely well, the melding of the CGI animals with the real-world locations at times felt seamless. My favorite sequence, shown in the trailer, is when Domhnall Gleeson’s character, Thomas McGregor, and Peter Rabbit are fighting and they pretend they are getting along just fine whenever Rose Byrne, Bea, walks in the room. It’s shot and edited in a way that the jokes land thanks to the placement of the actors and how the camera moves.
Quick note: I was impressed by the animation. The level of detail many of the animals had was impeccable, from the way the hair moved in the wind to how they interacted with the real world. You could really see that there was a clear effort to make the best-looking animals they could make.
Will Gluck and Rob Lieber also wrote a screenplay full of heart and enough comedic moments to entertain both the parents and the kids. This screenplay has a lot of running jokes - some land more than others - but overall, I found myself laughing a lot more than I thought I would. It felt like I was watching an old-school episode from the cartoon series Tom and Jerry. McGregor and Peter are constantly at odds with each other and it leads to multiple sequences where physical comedy was the star. My favorite running joke was the rooster that couldn’t believe the sun kept coming up, it’s also one of the best jokes for the parents.
The acting is solid and they have a wonderful cast. Domhnall Gleeson continues to be one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood, surpassed only by The Rock. He has made great choices in his career that has lead him to star in both Oscar contenders (Brooklyn and The Revenant) and Worldwide Franchises (Star Wars and Harry Potter). Gleeson looks to be really enjoying being an actor and that enjoyment shines through his performance in Peter Rabbit. He hits a wide range of charming, scary and just over the top funny with his physical performance. James Corden, love him or hate him, voiced Peter very well and he was genuinely charming. But the one that stole the movie for me was Will Reichelt as JW Rooster II with his hilarious line delivery as the shocked rooster in the morning.
Peter Rabbit is a perfectly fine family movie. It has some clunky moments at times, as not all jokes land, but the kids at my screening were engaged and the parents were entertained. Nothing else matters at that point when it comes to a good family movie. With the Box Office being particular dry for family entertainment, Peter Rabbit serves as a great alternative for a family looking to have fun. Will Gluck directed a fast-paced movie, full of heart and very funny physical comedy that is worth your time. Domhnall Gleeson is why I love movies.
Peter Rabbit is currently playing in theaters. Charming fun for the whole family. See it.
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