Released: 16th March 2018
Directed By: Will Gluck
Starring: James Corden, Domhnall Gleeson
Reviewed By: Van Connor
If there’s a human being you truly never want to meet, odds are they’d at least be friends with the sort of mind that looks at the work of Beatrix Potter and decides its big screen adaptation should come packaged up as if Richard Curtis had vomited on the Alvin & The Chipmunks movies whilst cosplaying as Dennis the Menace. The sum total of which is actually more amusing to visualise than literally any gag contained within the startlingly lacklustre Peter Rabbit.
Even were it not for the strangely long-lead marketing campaign that put the character on Easter eggs in supermarkets before Christmas last year, you’d doubtless have heard of this adaptation coming, due, in no small part, to it’s perceived hatred toward people with food allergies. As farcical as that controversy is though, it’s symptomatic of a movie that really doesn’t sport an awful lot of note otherwise. Domnhall Gleeson’s a city slicker who inherits his uncle’s farm, he hates animals, they go to war in a sort-of-family-friendly war, and then it’s over and you realise you haven’t laughed for an hour and a half. Also Domnhall Gleeson’s in it. And Domnhall Gleeson is literally the best thing about it.
Obviously, the casting of James Corden as the newly-CGI Peter brings with it an in-built level of contempt for some people, yet, it’s actually the writing that fails the former Smithy as he tries to inject as much fun as he possibly can into a movie that simply can’t be bothered to include any kind of charisma outside of its two human characters (Rose Byrne’s in there too, by the way, and she’s great. The movie is not). There’s also the requisite crop of big name talent voicing the rank and file of Peter’s countryside posse – Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley, Sia, etc – but, frankly, the movie really doesn’t care to develop give any of them what you’d call “a moment”, and so it’s another strike in the loss column there too.
Where it might work though is in the eyes of very young children seeking something more supposedly refined than a Chipmunks movie – even though the worst of those is at least four or five belly laughs better than this. Young kids will doubtless enjoy the heck out of it, it’s fun and frenzied enough to entertain a less discerning-than-adult mind, sure, but for the parents: just close your eyes and start counting sheep instead.