THE BURROW — February is notorious for producing subpar movies. It's a month filled with projects studios usually don't know what to do with so they just drop them in theaters sometime in February and hope the world just kind of forgets about it.
Granted, there are a few films that defy February expectations like "Deadpool," "Get Out" and "The LEGO Movie," but this month is usually known for disastrous films like "Vampire Academy," "Winter's Tale" and "Gods of Egypt."
With all of that, I was under the impression that "Peter Rabbit" was going to fall into that latter category. Much to my surprise, it landed much closer to the former as opposed to the latter. "Peter Rabbit" likely won't be breaking any February box-office records or changing the way we look at family films, but it was entertaining, had some genuinely funny bits and my kids had a blast. Needless to say, it offered up a lot more than I was expecting, which was next to nothing.
Here are some of the reasons "Peter Rabbit" defied my expectations and other reasons it was exactly what I thought it would be:
When I initially saw the trailers for "Peter Rabbit" I found myself rolling my eyes and audibly groaning. It looked lazy and exhausting, and I was truly dreading the press screening. I really like Domhnall Gleeson, but nothing about this movie or him in it appealed to me. When the fateful day came to see the movie I sat in my seat expecting to walk out drained and frustrated that a studio spent so much on a movie, but I was wrong and I found myself laughing out loud on a number of occasions.
I am not the biggest James Corden fan, and I often feel he's trying incredibly hard to be charming. For me, it comes off ungenuine and forced. Yes, Corden lays on his charm as much as he can as the voice of Peter Rabbit, but it worked for me and I found the mischievous hare to be approachable and funny.
Not all of the gags worked, but overall my kids and I were laughing and having a good time.
As I mentioned earlier I am a fan of Gleeson and I also like Rose Byrne and they are the human leads in this film. Their chemistry feels real and their characters, while flawed, draw you in and become increasingly likable.
The voice cast of Corden, as well as Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley and Elizabeth Debicki, is solid and talented and makes for entertaining banter. I don't think the actors put their all into the film, but there is enough there to make it watchable and mostly enjoyable.
This is a family movie aimed at kids, and I believe it hit the mark. Two of my kids accompanied me to the screening and they were into the film from start to finish. They were laughing and smiling during the movie and then quoting it and asking me if I remembered certain scenes the whole way home.
I don't often ask a lot from family films because I know not all of them can rise to the ranks of Pixar's best, but I do want them to be fun and entertaining while keeping my kids enthralled and maybe teaching them a lesson along the way. "Peter Rabbit" managed to check most of these boxes.
I wasn't bored during the 93-minute run time and my kids had a lot of fun, so those are a go. On top of that, the character arcs of both Peter and Mr. McGregor are fine examples of taking responsibility and learning to put the needs of others before your own. They don't hit you over the head with it and I doubt your children will become better people just because they watched this movie, but it still has a lesson inside there if you're willing to find it.
Overall the plot of "Peter Rabbit" is predictable and worn. We've seen this movie a thousand times before and truthfully we'll see it a thousand times more. It's not quite as by-the-book as let's say a Hallmark Christmas movie, but it's pretty run-of-the-mill fare. But that's OK, because "Peter Rabbit" set out to make kids smile and with my kids at least it succeeded.
"Peter Rabbit" won't be winning any awards or go down in history as any of these actors' greatest roles, but who cares? I just wanted to have a good time at the movies with my kids and that's exactly what I got. That's all I really needed.
In a slow month for movies, I believe "Peter Rabbit" is a great trip to the theater with your family.
"Peter Rabbit" is rated PG for some rude humor and action.