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REVIEW: Peter Rabbit – Toot or Boot?

 

 
Overview
 

Directed by: Will Gluck
 
Produced by: Sony Pictures Animation and Columbia Pictures
 
Written By: Will Gluck and Rob Lieber
 
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Sam Neill, Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, James Corden
 
MTRCB Rating: G
 
Genre:
 
FG RATING
7.0
7/ 10


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Raves


If you’re looking for something to watch with your kids, I would recommend this.

Rants


If you’re a purist who wants to retain the same image of Peter Rabbit as you have read it in your childhood, you’re better off giving this one a hard pass.


Will Gluck and Rob Lieber’s retelling of the beloved naughty rabbit penned by Beatrix Potter has received negative reviews from critics worldwide, starting from the release of its trailer to the film’s premiere in other countries. However, I gave the poor rascal another chance because I loved Peter Rabbit as a kid, and here are […]

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Posted March 5, 2018 by

 
FULL REVIEW
 
 

Will Gluck and Rob Lieber’s retelling of the beloved naughty rabbit penned by Beatrix Potter has received negative reviews from critics worldwide, starting from the release of its trailer to the film’s premiere in other countries. However, I gave the poor rascal another chance because I loved Peter Rabbit as a kid, and here are my thoughts about it.

WHY DO THE CRITICS HATE THE FILM?

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The film is set in the modern times, loosely based on elements from the book and not just one book in particular. What most critics say is that this version of Peter Rabbit had been made too human, compared to Potter’s style of writing which retained a balance between the anthropomorphized and animalistic dimensions of the characters. Rebecca Mead of The New Yorker wrote, “the movie’s essential failing is that Gluck and Lieber, in seeking to compensate for what they have perceived as Potter’s timidity toward antic slapstick, and in replacing the fable-like simplicity of her stories with a knowing veneer of contemporaneity, have overlooked the suggestive darkness at the core of Potter’s work”–and that’s just one of the many scalding reviews. According to The Guardian, this Peter Rabbit was just so poorly done that it will make you root for the villain instead and commenting on some scenes which says leaves audiences “with the incontrovertible feeling that this entire venture was put together by people who genuinely hate Peter Rabbit.” Yeesh.

And yes, the controversial allergy scene needs to be mentioned as well: where Peter used McGregor’s blackberry allergy to bring him down, causing an anaphylactic shock that drove McGregor stab himself with an epipen. This upset a lot of the viewers that went on to Twitter demanding an apology from Sony.

IS IT STILL WORTH WATCHING?

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Yes. If you’re looking for something to watch with your kids, I would recommend this. There were a lot of kids in the theater when I saw this film, and based on their reactions, I can say that they did like it. As someone who has read The Tale of Peter Rabbit as a kid, I stand by with my liking of this adaptation. The humor was clean, the characters were relatable, and if the human aspect is what critics claim destroyed this beloved classic–then sue me, because I think that’s what made it charming to me and the audience that I watched it with.

The film is not perfect in execution: Peter’s methods and antics may seem too cruel to be child-friendly, and there are jokes that fly over children’s heads. But the being slapstick of it was a necessary evil, as the tamer, book version of Peter would not be as entertaining if strictly translated on screen, let alone, if set on today’s setting. If anything, the intent of showcasing Peter’s wit and flair for mischief was conveyed well, and reminiscent of the dark humor and chaos in Home Alone and The Addams Family.

The best way to put it is that the presentation of humor has been adjusted to introduce a new generation of children who may not have read the books before to a version of Peter that they can easily relate to. It may have failed in some aspects because of its ambition to take on a classic, but its attempts to pull off tasteful references to the original source material is something definitely worth watching. Incorporation of the nostalgic illustrations from the books through a character representing Beatrix Potter herself was heartwarming to say the least, and Rose Byrne did not disappoint. Sure, if Potter was alive today she wouldn’t have agreed to the direction Sony Pictures went with this film, but the boldness to take it there was admirable to some extent.

If you’re open to these deviations, go ahead and watch it. But if you’re a purist who wants to retain the same image of Peter Rabbit as you have read it in your childhood, you’re better off giving this one a hard pass.


Nadine Flores

 


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