With a book about Peter Rabbit (voiced by James Corden) and his siblings becoming an overnight success, Bea (Rose Byrne), along with her new husband Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson), travels to Gloucester to meet the publisher. debonair Nigel Basil-Jones (David Oyelowo) books. As Bea sees her story drift away from its original conception, Peter takes umbrage at being cast as the villain and heads out on his own.
Surprisingly, Gluck and Patrick Burleigh’s screenplay has fun with the responses to the first film. While critics criticize the original for distorting Potter’s hero as arrogant, mean-spirited, and downright evil, Plot A sees Peter (“Terrible in foreign languages, excellent at violence in cartoons”) on a trip to the coast. ‘selfish to selfless as, on a trip to Gloucester, he stumbles with a Guy Ritchie-style street gang led by grizzled bunny Barnabas (Lennie James) and realizes he’s not bad, after all – that in makes a character more attractive.
Plot B takes another penetrating blow on the first try: the betrayal of the sweet whimsy of the original tales in favor of something strong and brash. Here, Bea (Rose Byrne) is courted by the great editor Nigel Basil-Jones (David Oyelowo, seizing a rare chance to have some fun), who wants to take the characters according to his family and put them on a beach or make them explode. in the space. When Bea fears that her book may be turned into a “sassy hipfest for commercial purposes only,” it sounds like a well-crafted replica of an overwhelming Peter Rabbit see again.
Although containing some fun moments – Peter and Barnabas play a mole in a recycling bin; an escape from a home kitchen – the first half lacks narrative motivation. It takes an extremely complicated heist on a farmer’s market – filled with that hipster staple, “extremely poor folk music” – and a last-reel rescue mission to sharpen the stakes and raise the pulse. Peter’s relationships – sisters Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail (Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki and Aimee Horne), and cousin Benjamin Bunny (Colin Moody) – lack any distinctive characters (another trait the movie pokes fun at) but there are has fun having as a number prop: a pig who likes to be judgmental, a fox on a fitness streak and a street squirrel who strangely knows the right song to play at the right time.
It feels a bit thin and generic compared to family fare like The Mitchells against the machines, but the Byrne-Gleeson combo wins and Gluck injects just enough slapstick and intelligence to justify the latest gag about a sequel.
It’s not Paddington 2, but Peter Rabbit 2 performs well thanks to a mocking sense of self and a strong second half. Again, Beatrix Potter, this is not the case.