Farmer steals the show from cute bunnies in Peter Rabbit

Rose Byrne, the crush of Mr McGregor the farmer, and the realistically rendered rabbits in Peter Rabbit.
Rose Byrne, the crush of Mr McGregor the farmer, and the realistically rendered rabbits in Peter Rabbit.PHOTO: SONY PICTURES



100 minutes/Opens today

3 stars

The story: Peter (James Corden) and his rabbit family spend their days stealing from farmer Mr McGregor's (Domhnall Gleeson) garden. Mr McGregor tries all he can to get rid of the rabbits, but has to do it in secret as his crush, neighbour Bea (Rose Byrne), loves the animals.

It is easy to imagine how this film got off the ground.

Following the recent box-office success of the two Paddington films, movie studios must have started scrambling for all the other classic British children's picture books in the hope of turning them into the next big live actionanimated hybrid hit.

And although this film, which is based on Beatrix Potter's beloved books of the 1900s, is nowhere near as effortlessly charming as Paddington (2014), it should still be cheery enough to please both the kids and the adults.

That is, if one does not mind the fact that Peter Rabbit here is so markedly different from the one in the books.

In the source material, he is mischievous, to be sure, but he is naughty and obnoxious enough in the movie to be a real menace at times.

One of the scenes, where he is seen taking advantage of Mr McGregor's blackberry allergy against him, has already caused a backlash among some parents who think it is insensitive and amounts to a form of "allergy bullying".

Peter is not completely awful, however.

He is fiercely protective of his family and comes off as more playful than truly mean, thanks in large part to heartfelt voice work by likable British talk-show host James Corden.

The CGI renderings of Peter and all the other animals are more realistic than ever and blends seamlessly into the human world.

As much as the story is about Peter, the real star of the film is Mr McGregor, played by a very earnest Gleeson.

The Irish actor, who is better known for his serious turns as General Hux in the Star Wars movies and coding expert Caleb in sci-fi thriller Ex Machina (2015), proves to be a natural comedian as he bumbles his way around the countryside trying to get rid of Peter.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2018, with the headline 'Farmer steals the show from cute bunnies'. Subscribe