Cert – U, Run-time – 1 hour 33 minutes, Director – Will Gluck
After being marketed as ‘the bad seed’ Peter Rabbit (James Corden) runs away from the McGregor’s (Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson) garden and falls in with a group of heist-planning animals.
Perhaps one of the last things to be fully expected from Peter Rabbit 2 is a somewhat self-aware nature. The point where the film begins to welcome the viewer in is as it pokes fun at a charming, innocent book series being turned into something more mass-market to make money, removing all British identity with an American at the helm. In fact, it’s roughly this idea that Peter Rabbit 2 revolves around. After penning her hit childrens story Peter Rabbit. Bea (Rose Byrne) is receiving interest from a big time publisher, Nigel Basil-Jones (David Oyelowo – who it’s always nice to see). However, Nigel has views to adapt Peter Rabbit for a bigger market, giving similar treatment to that he gave a picture book about insects – giving them skateboards and cartoon faces to make them more appealing to modern readers. Through this he displays potential character posters for the cast of rabbits, pitching Peter (James Corden) as ‘the bad seed’.
Fed up of getting into constant trouble, often through misunderstandings or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and being pitched as the villain Peter decides to run away. It’s not long until he bumps into an old friend of his father’s Barnabas (Lennie James), think a more family-friendly stereotypical Ray Winstone character. Peter finds himself joining Barnabas’ crew and leaving his old life in the McGregor’s garden behind. Instead planning a dried fruit heist at the local farmer’s market, rat Whiskers (Rupert Degas) being a highlight with his occasional sidetracks and regularly interrupted, romanticised flashbacks and plan walkthroughs. During some of the more heist orientated moments the film goes for a less in-your-face approach to that which the first had. There’s a lot less ‘unsubtle’ comedy present and it allows for an easier, more enjoyable watch – particularly when it comes to the final 20-25 minutes when the general plot comes more together and the film stretches out a bit more.
Still present are some of the general wisecracks of Corden’s titular figure and Domhnall Gleeson’s effects-assisted slapstick, however even these seem toned down in the sequel. Once the more self-aware, and slightly deprecating, nature comes through there’s a more enjoyable time to be had here than that of the first film. It might only be some lines here and there to start with, but as the film embraces such styles more and more and carries along through its fairly simplistic plot there’s enough present to fill the brief 93 minute run-time of the piece. There’s a consistency that helps things along even more and manages to help keep the pacing of the piece the same way – as it goes back and forth between two or three rural locations. For the most part there’s enough in Peter Rabbit 2; especially when it focuses more on slightly self-aware comedy and not cramming it in as much humour as possible, to make it an enjoyable watch that keeps you amused for most of its short run-time.
Peter Rabbit 2 succeeds by not only lessening some of the weaker elements of the first film, but also by managing to make jokes at such elements too. The plot and a number of gags throughout provide enough amusement to make for an easy enough, worthwhile viewing.