3 out of 5 stars
It is evident from the previous film that this alliteration of Peter Rabbit is quite a deviation from Beatrix Potter’s original water-coloured tale. There are similarities to her characters from her beloved book series, but this story is told with a modern spin. Peter Rabbit 2 diffuses some of the tension shown between Peter (James Corden) and Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) in the original film. Most of the peace between these two comes because of Thomas's marriage to Bea (Rose Byrne). This leads to an armistice between the farm animals and McGregor on what they can and cannot eat, as long as they do not touch his tomatoes.
Along with her celebration of married life, Bea has become a local celebrity after her book's release about the mischievous rabbit and his family. As her star rises, the new author is approached by the charming book publisher, Nigel Basil-Jones (David Oyelowo). The successful businessman promises her global success with a significant book deal that would permanently seal her family's financial security. Despite Bea being drawn into this world of fame and fortune, Thomas is very wary of the charismatic publisher. He does not like the marketing label of 'The Bad Seed' that he has given to Peter.
His furry friend does not like the label either and becomes separated from his family and friends. As he hops around the city, Peter happens upon an older rabbit named Barnabas (Lennie James). The hare is an old friend of his dad who is now living in the big city with stray animals. The wayward Peter gets drawn into their carefree life where he thinks he is not being judged or misunderstood. This leaves him considering leaving home and family for the exciting life in the big city. The young rabbit must contemplate whether to turn his back on the ones he loves for the sake of living the high life, until he is asked to partake in a shady deal cooked up by Barnabus.
Whether you were a fan of the first film or not, this chapter stays true to the original’s storyline while allowing key characters to develop. This is mainly seen in the relationship between Peter and Thomas. They manage to find common ground and work together to grow personally and build into their ‘family’ of barnyard animals. Even though Bea and Peter are led astray by their temptations surrounding them, but all is eventually made right in the end. This is all complemented by the CGI advancements that make the lines between animation and live-action seamless.
The animals' antics and the slapstick nature of the humour may prove to be a bit frenetic for some viewers. It does remain consistent with this franchise. Despite the sophomoric nature of the comedy, the story does provide something for young and old. If parents are looking for something to escape to during the holiday season, Peter Rabbit 2 may be the very thing your family will enjoy. Even though Beatrix Potter may not recognise her creations, she might be glad to see how they learned something from their poor choices. A life lesson we all could benefit from, especially in our relations with barnyard animals.
REEL DIALOGUE: Can we trust anyone or anything?
Trust. It is a word that is essential for human (and rabbit) relations to flourish. The challenge is to know who to trust. Both Bea and Peter get taken in by charming influences in their lives and eventually lead them down less-than-desirable paths. This brings us back to the question of knowing who to trust for wise counsel. Where are we to place our personal faith and who can we trust when things are at their worst?
This is an issue that impacts fictional tales and real life, too. It is not hard to realise that most people will fail to find the answers in this area at some point. Yet, what is known of the God of the Bible is that he is the only one that is truly trustworthy. If you are looking for someone to trust, how about picking up the Bible and finding the only genuinely reliable being in existence.
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:20-21