Following up on my horrible time watching (and trying to keep up with) The Boss Baby: Family Business, I prepared for Peter Rabbit 2 with trepidation considering I hadn’t seen its predecessor and I wasn’t sure what would be in store. But, to my surprise, Peter Rabbit 2 was breezy and amusing. Absolutely innocuous, but it’s a cute children’s film that maintains its momentum and sets up some great slapstick and sustains its heartfelt themes.
The film picks up during a life-changing career opportunity for author Bea (Rose Byrne) soon after her marriage to farmer Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson). A major publication would like to option Bea’s stories based on her farmyard friends, and expand them towards a new series. Although she’s grateful, she struggles to secure the identity of her writing while trying to accept big ideas from her publisher Nigel Basil-Jones (David Oyelowo). Meanwhile, Peter (voiced by James Corden) is devastated to find out how he’s being represented as a deviant in Bea’s hit stories. Frustrated with the label, he wanders the streets of London where he convinces himself to hang out with different company that would seemingly be a better fit for him.
Peter Rabbit 2 uses these parallel stories of identity to pitch running themes of representation and individuality for audiences of all ages, with children identifying with Peter and adults relating to Bea. Both stories come from a genuine place, and place more of a focus on the characters rather than cloying emotional triggers for the audience. That said, Peter Rabbit 2 isn’t a film to be distracted with itself, and knows when to move along to well-orchestrated slapstick comedy to keep its young viewers entertained. Just like the story, adults will be just as entertained as we watch the film’s fantastic, and sometimes too rubbery, pratfalls. Outside of the character stories is a loose plot about Peter’s thieving new friends trying to pull off food heists, with “the big job” happening at a farmer’s market. This action plot is lightweight fun, pulling in influences from Mouse Hunt to The Italian Job.
Peter Rabbit 2 also has some surprisingly tongue-in-cheek touches regarding the structure of the movie that I imagine only parents will pick up on, such as characters foreshadowing the end of the movie to an amusing tee. This is a film that really didn’t need to go this extra mile, yet decided to do so anyway and, miraculously, pulls it off.
In a current time when decent family fare seems to be few and far between, Peter Rabbit 2 is worthy.
Rent Peter Rabbit 2 at home NOW! The film also returns to select theatres on Friday, July 16.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie