So, Peter Rabbit arrived on the big screen this week, in danger of disappearing in a dust cloud of critical kicks and punches before he’d even really got going. I’d seen the one-star reviews, the tuts, the eye-rolls behind half-moon spectacles, sighing about the sacrilege of a quintessential and uniquely British bunny.
But you know what? I thought I’d go and see for myself, make up my own mind. And, I’m sad to say that they were mostly right. But not entirely.
The key issue so far has been the rabbit. Where once there was a lovable spiritedness about Peter, now he’s a little less enticing, less easy to embrace. He’s cocksure and full of himself, at worst coming off as an actual aspiring murderer, at best as a relentless bully. There seems to be a general swell of unappreciation for James Corden these days, which is partly unfair (but not entirely), but in this case, it is hard to separate the sassy rabbit he voices from the actor/presenter’s less intoxicating traits.
Another element of the movie that has had critics up in arms finds the furry mob attempting to force their mark (Mr McGregor’s great nephew, also called Mr McGregor) into anaphylactic shock, on learning that he’s got a blackberry intolerance. And, fair enough, it’s not the most sensitive approach to a genuine allergy, but at the same time, it’s a MOVIE – they had literally spent previous scenes (or later ones, all a blur) attempting to electrocute young McGregor to death. So, potato potarto.
Other accusations levelled at the production are that it’s too modern, there’s too much pop music, Beatrix Potter would have hated it, and all are valid. But really, when it comes to children’s movies, it’s easy to forget the most important factor – children. As adults, we’ve been spoiled in recent years with a glut of films that can entertain grown-ups and little-ones alike – by adding a bit of sass here, or including a few winks there, a couple of jokes for the dads/mums – so there seems to be an added pressure to modernise, to funny up. Point being, ultimately, if anything, we’re to blame for this “atrocity”. Poor Peter never really stood a chance.
But before we all get too downhearted about the state of modern cinema, consider this – I took my 3-year-old to the pictures on a Friday afternoon. He sang all the way there, he was transfixed throughout, munching his way through a gigantic box of popcorn (top class parenting on my part), excited and bewildered by the big screen, I laughed out loud approximately two times, and when we left my son had a massive impossible-to-shift smile on his face.
Hence, Five Stars.
Out of a hundred.
Just kidding. We don’t do stars.