Peter Rabbit review – in a hole with James Corden's unfunny bunny

This attempt to turn Beatrix Potter’s creation into a sassy, low-grade British Bugs – voiced by Corden – is cynical and tiresome

Prepare to enter a valley both uncanny and unfunny with this tiresome film, whose director and co-writer, Will Gluck, appears to have responded to an urgent question echoing inside his own head: “When, oh when will someone take the twee merchandisable ickiness of Beatrix Potter’s great creation Peter Rabbit and turn it into a sassy live-action animation like Babe or Alvin and the Chipmunks?”

Those with long memories and strong stomachs will remember Renée Zellweger playing Beatrix in Miss Potter, and how her creations appeared to wrinkle up their little rabbity noses at her from the drawing paper. Gluck (known for the comedies Friends With Benefits and Annie) has excised the olden-days National Trust tea-towel cutesiness and reinvented Peter Rabbit (voiced by James Corden) as a PG-certificate lite-badass comic, a lower-grade British Bugs, forever leading the other rabbits in raids on Mr McGregor’s vegetable patch.

Next door lives Beatrix herself (played by Rose Byrne): an aspiring conceptual artist who draws the traditional images of Peter Rabbit et al in her spare time. When old Mr McGregor (Sam Neill) keels over, his cottage and surrounding grounds are inherited by his villainous, thin-faced great-nephew Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson). Thomas is a low-grade manager in the Harrods toy department – a deeply unironic bit of commercial branding and product placement. And he is a bit of a tyrant. But wait: Thomas also has to be a potential nice guy as well, murmuring to Beatrix that he loves helping people at the store. Soon there is canoodling between them.

This movie has got into trouble for showing someone with a blackberry-intolerance being deliberately attacked. A cynically targeted sweet substance causes the victim to go into anaphylactic shock. I can relate.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Peter Rabbit 2 review – James Corden’s unfunny bunny scampers back
Voiced by Corden, Peter tumbles into a life of crime in a part-animated caper that’s occasionally cute but mostly bland

Peter Bradshaw

17, May, 2021 @4:00 PM

Article image
Peter Rabbit review: James Corden's twerking bunny gets away with it – just
The new Beatrix Potter adaptation tries to follow in the footsteps of the blockbuster Paddington movies, and largely manages to pull it off

Steve Rose

04, Feb, 2018 @4:13 PM

Article image
James Corden's Peter Rabbit: another kids' classic wrecked forever
A new trailer reveals Beatrix Potter’s gentle rabbit has been turned into a house-trashing, cocky jerk. It looks like he’s gone the way of Postman Pat and Thunderbirds

Stuart Heritage

25, Sep, 2017 @12:16 PM

Article image
Peter Rabbit review – unfunny bunny
James Corden and co bring nothing to the carrot patch in this crass take on the Beatrix Potter classic

Simran Hans

18, Mar, 2018 @7:50 AM

Article image
Peter Rabbit 2: the Runaway review – amusingly self-aware sequel
Our vegetable-stealing hero appears to be in on the joke in this at times thoroughly inventive follow-up

Wendy Ide

23, May, 2021 @10:00 AM

Article image
James Corden and Rose Byrne to star in Peter Rabbit movie
The British actor and talk show host will voice the Beatrix Potter character in a film mixing live action and animation

Benjamin Lee

05, Aug, 2016 @9:50 AM

Article image
The Addams Family review – ooky animation can't find a heartbeat
The latest incarnation of the mysterious and spooky household, from the directors of Sausage Party, is not creepy and not kooky – it’s bland

Cath Clarke

25, Oct, 2019 @12:00 PM

Article image
Peter Rabbit digs in for a fourth week on top at UK box office
Family favourite is still No 1, while high-concept horror A Quiet Place opened with a buzz and Love, Simon breaks the teen comedy mould

Charles Gant

10, Apr, 2018 @1:57 PM

Article image
Top Cat Begins review – tiptop tat
This new puss prequel is very much on a par with the standard of the first film

Peter Bradshaw

26, May, 2016 @9:45 PM

Article image
Smallfoot review – slapstick-and-snowballs yeti adventure
High in the Himalayas, a village of abominable snowmen make a surprising discovery in this frenetic family animation

Cath Clarke

11, Oct, 2018 @11:00 AM