Peter Rabbit (James Corden), his sisters Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki) and Cotton-Tail (Daisy Ridley) and their cousin Benjamin (Colin Moody) are constantly trying to get into Mr. McGregor’s (Sam Neill) garden. When the old curmudgeon dies, the rabbits and all their animal friends take over the garden and the house that comes with it. Their fun comes to an abrupt end when McGregor’s grandson Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson) arrives to clean up the house and sell it.
The neighbor, Bea (Rose Byrne), is an animal lover and painter who coddles the rabbits and tries to convince Thomas they are the rightful owners of the land he’s just inherited. Smitten with her, Thomas agrees and plays nice with the rabbits whenever Bea is within sight, but as soon as her back is turned he and Peter Rabbit wage war with one another, each trying to get rid of the other in larger, more elaborate (and hilarious) ways.
Peter Rabbit is a hilarious family film that updates Beatrix Potter’s classic stories in ways that will appeal to modern audiences without alienating older fans. It’s also great fun for the entire family, though parents might find some scenes a bit too dark for their little ones (a character dying and being taken off in an ambulance, another being shocked numerous times and falling off a roof). Fear not: these moments are played in such a way that children likely won’t notice anything amiss among the humor and hijinks.
The story weaves in a plethora of other characters (human and animal alike), all of which are masterfully developed even if they only have a single line of dialogue. Everyone has a place and purpose, making this cast of dozens feel almost epic and never confusing. There’s songs, and comedy, and serious beats to find an audience across all four quadrants.
Peter Rabbit is definitely a good time, and masterfully made. The pacing slows down a bit in the middle, but it’s a short-lived stutter in an otherwise great flick. Both the voice talent and the computer animation are on-point, delivering digital critters with intensely dynamic and emotional expressions. Combine these with a killer script that’s not too “kiddy” and a strong vision from director Will Gluck, and you’re left with a solid family film that stands on its own legs (whether 2 or 4).