Beatrix Potter’s beloved characters return for a second live action/CGI outing (known as Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway in some territories) in this fluffy romp that succeeds in fixing some of the problems that beset the original 2018 movie.
Cheeky rabbit Peter (once again voiced by James Corden) and his fellow rabbits and other assorted animals have settled into lovely, quaint countryside existence thanks to a truce of sorts between Peter and former nemesis Mr McGregor (Gleeson), who has married Bea (Byrne) and now runs a little toy store that sells Bea’s new book about Peter and his friends.
However, when a flashy publisher named Nigel Basil-Jones (Oyelowo) tempts Bea with offers of fast cars and cash, it looks like her sweet little farmyard books could be turned into something far more commercial, with Peter cast as the bad boy much to his despair. Feeling that McGregor will never accept him and he’ll always be seen as the naughty one, Peter runs away and ends up on the mean streets of Gloucester in the company of streetwise rabbit Barnabas (Lennie James).
One of the major problems of the first movie was that Peter came across as annoying and selfish rather than cute and mischievous, and that is quickly resolved here as Peter naively gets involved in Barnabas’s adventures while having the best intentions, and becomes more loveable because of it. He’s far more likeable here – just a rabbit who, like the kids watching, sometimes makes mistakes but doesn’t mean to – and is a much more enjoyable central character than he was in the first movie.
The story is fast paced with lots of silly slapstick humour for little ones, and some knowingly humorous nods for captive grown-ups (including references to Peter’s ‘annoying’ voice, presumably in response to criticisms of Corden’s casting in the 2018 film, though he’s actually a perfectly fun and cheeky choice when you give him a chance).
The supporting voice cast is good, too – Lennie James is joined by Margot Robbie and Elizabeth Debicki as Flopsy and Mopsy, Hayley Atwell as Mittens and Sia as Mrs Tiggy-Winkle – and while of the live action actors Gleeson must win the prize for ludicrous physical comedy, it’s Oyelowo who steals the movie as the smarmy, slippery, posh publisher who wants Peter and his pals in high tops and board shorts chilling on the beach.
A big improvement on the first Peter Rabbit movie thanks to the tighter script and Peter’s growing likeability (you’ll love him by the end), this is a fun adaptation of Potter’s characters for little kids, and not a bad way to spend 90 minutes for parents, either.
Is Peter Rabbit 2 suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
The animals often get into scrapes, and are occasionally caged, but rescue usually comes very quickly so even the littlest viewers shouldn’t be upset.
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