According to the trailers, I was planning to skip “Peter Rabbit.” Then, Rotten Tomatoes showed me a better score than I anticipated (somewhere between its 50 and 60%), so I had to give it a shot. But, as expected, it’s a tired old mess.
James Corden voices Peter Rabbit, who always battles old man McGregor (Sam Neill, disguised with a bushy beard) for his vegetables. Then the old man dies of a heart attack due to an unwanted montage of unhealthy choices, so Peter, his sisters (voiced by Elizabeth Debicki, Margot Robbie, and Daisy Ridley), and their animal friends have the garden for the taking.
That is until McGregor’s spoiled nephew Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson, a great young actor mostly humiliating himself) travels from London to the countryside to sell the house. And when he falls for the rabbits’ only human friend-a kind-hearted artist named Bea (Rose Byrne, nice at first, but then annoying)-the slapstick between him and Peter Rabbit begins. Most of it involves his electric fence.
There’s a nicely drawn animated scene that shows us how Peter lost his father to the old McGregor, which has a respectful quality to the book. The voice-acting from Corden, Debicki, Robbie, and Ridley works, and the only touching thing is the turning point, but the rest is mostly routine with a tired old “Home Alone” genre and CGI junk food.
Kids may eat this stuff up, but when you’re an adult who deserves better, you’ll find yourself bored and unamused with “Peter Rabbit.” I didn’t laugh once. In fact, none of the jokes to me are even remotely funny.
The “Paddington” movies have a certain kind of wit and charm. “Peter Rabbit” doesn’t have much of that.