It’s a story for the ages. Peter (fully CGI but voiced by James Cordon) and his all-star cast of siblings and friends (including but not limited to Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley and Elizabeth Debicki) have one goal in life: steal as many vegetables from Old Mr. McGregor’s (Sam Neill) garden as possible. It’s far from an easy task; McGregor having set traps everywhere the rabbit’s turn, but when Old Mr. McGregor passes away, a new, younger Mr. Gregor takes control of the farm, now played by Domhnall Gleeson. He’s faster, nastier and smarter than he who came before him, and things become further complicated for the rabbits when he begins to fall in love with their only human alley, Bea (Rose Byrne).
The wild antics one would expect are dialed up to eleven. Describing this film as extreme is an understatement, but this extremity is so ridiculous that it works. Peter and Mr. McGregor are constantly at each other’s throats, quite literally at times, and their methods to the madness bring the creative slapstick humour to life in a number of genuinely funny sequences. Some of the traps may prove shocking, and perhaps excessive, for parents of younger children, but while I can’t speak for everyone (obviously), the kids in my screening were having a blast. And trust me, there were a lot of kids. In fact, a young boy sitting just two seats down from me was having so much fun that his laughter became infectious after a while.
There are a lot of moments where his erratic behaviour works, and Cordon feels perfectly cast, but moments throughout require a more tender approach to the storytelling, and that’s where Cordon falls short. It’s like living in the alternate reality where Colin Farrell was still set to voice Paddington. While I do love Farrell, his voice isn’t suited for that of a kindhearted, loveable bear with an obsession with marmalade. In the same way, Cordon doesn’t quite suit the mischievous, but overall caring protagonist he’s hired to voice. But still, the live action components come oh so close to redeeming him, with Rose Byrne and Domhnall Gleeson giving absolutely delightful, if not somewhat over the top performances.
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