Earnest ‘Peter Rabbit’ sure to delight young fans

By SANDY COHEN AP Entertainment Writer

With warm nostalgia for Beatrix Potter’s classic children’s tale, “Peter Rabbit “ director, producer and co-writer Will Gluck channels the author’s earnestness into a sweet film sure to delight young fans.

Adults may find the plot predictable and the pacing a bit wanting, but the dynamic animation and beloved characters help compensate, as does the film’s cheeky self-awareness.

As in the book published in 1902, the story begins with Peter Rabbit (James Corden) disobeying his parents’ rules and sneaking into Old Mr. McGregor’s vegetable garden for a snack.

Old Mr. McGregor gives chase, but Peter and his trusty sidekick, Benjamin Bunny (Colin Moody) elude capture. All the running around gives the old man a heart attack, and Peter assumes all their problems are solved — until McGregor’s great-nephew moves in.

Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson at his most playful) is a tightly wound Londoner who resents relocating to the countryside to care for the property. He’s still apoplectic about being passed over for a promotion at Harrods, and that irritation is compounded when he discovers his great-uncle’s house and garden are overrun with cotton-tailed cuties he calls vermin.

The rabbits’ savior — and maybe Thomas’, too — is Bea (Rose Byrne), a kind-hearted animal lover who lives next door. She moved to the country to paint, and her best pieces recall Potter’s original “Peter Rabbit” illustrations.

Those illustrations come to life at various points during the film. The simple, hand-drawn animation contrasts beautifully with the slick digital work that comprises most of the movie, inserting realistic-looking talking rabbits into live-action scenes with Byrne and Gleeson.

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