Peter Rabbit the movie—funny, entertaining, and bursting with vibrant lively animations (at points you’ll even feel like you’re in the movie with the rabbit’s fast-paced hops). It’s your typical boy meets girl and they fall in love plot. But to his dismay, there’s another dude in the way— one who eats carrots and has a white cotton tail. Overall it was a funny flick that I thoroughly enjoyed, but I probably would leave the kids at home.
When Beatrix Potter wrote the original Peter Rabbit tale, she probably never would have expected to see her precious innocent Peter Rabbit adapted into some mischief-making millennial rabbit. While he is the protagonist in the movie, and audiences are impelled to like him—despite his rule bending and rebelliousness—he’s kind of a big jerk. Peter has a very dude-like fraternity nature, and isn’t the cute whimsical bunny Potter portrayed in the classic kids’ book.
Considering it’s a kids’ movie, the film is saturated in cruel humor. First, the backstory flashes back to when Peter Rabbit’s father was murdered by evil human Mr. McGregor for breaking into his garden. The movie commences with Peter Rabbit trying to kill the old Mr. McGregor himself in honor of his father and to gain access of this vegetated garden (AKA rabbit paradise). McGregor has a heart attack, which caused his death, but still doesn’t account for the fact that Peter was trying his best to wipe out the grumpy gardener by using sharp tools. Once Mr. McGregor is dead, the animals break into his house and trash it, littering his house in lettuce.
When Mr. McGregor’s nephew, Thomas, arrives to sell the house after his uncle’s death, he also has a deep hatred of furry animal friends (especially after seeing what they did to the house). A large portion of the movie focuses on Thomas plotting schemes setting up traps, such as electric fences, to keep the rabbits away. Meanwhile, the rabbits formulate their own vengeful plans of destruction. Bottom line: The rabbits wants Thomas dead (or at least gone), and Thomas wants the rabbits dead.
The rabbit clan—Peter, his three sisters, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail, and cousin Benjamin—adore human ray of sunshine Bea, the late Mr. McGregor’s neighbor. She’s pleasant, charming, and has a very motherly nature, (think: Snow White, but with rabbits). Since Peter’s mother died of old age after their father was murdered, Peter and his siblings look up to Bea as their protector. But when Bea starts warming up to the villainous Thomas McGregor, Peter becomes jealous he’s losing her and wants to do everything he can to get rid of Thomas.
The film fell under scrutiny by many parents for its mocking portrayal of food allergies. The scene under fire occurs when the bunnies mock Thomas for being allergic to blackberries. Later on, in attempts to destroy him, they pelt him with blackberries, going so far as to aim one in his mouth. Thomas tries to inject himself with his EpiPen after swallowing a berry, but ends up collapsing. Sony released a statement apologizing for trivializing food allergies on screen, after receiving complaints from disgruntled viewers.
Furthermore, before Thomas arrives at his uncle’s, he works at Harrods in the city (the film mostly takes place at the McGregor’s home in the country). When Thomas does not receive a promotion he was expecting at work, he starts knocking toys off the table and beats up a giant teddy bear. He’s shown as being crazy, with the film giving off the impression that we should not like him because he’s so aggressive. Thomas is fired for his outburst. I personally viewed it more as he might have anger management problems, or other handicaps, that shouldn’t necessarily frame him as the bad guy. Later on in the film, when he finally is offered the position, his boss even says he must get a psychological evaluation.
In addition to the allergy issue, there were some slight sexual undertones that may have pushed the envelope a bit too far. There were butt cracks shown, there was mention of nipples, and a little too much rowdy behavior than your typical talking animal kids’ movie. While I wouldn’t label Peter Rabbit as a bad movie—it did have a strong storyline and stunning animations—I would label it inappropriate for its target audience.
While the film is whimsical and full of silliness, the violence and malicious plot lines seem too intense for a kids’ movie and not as playful or quaint as Potter would have wanted her story to be told on the big screen. Our recommendation is to screen it first before deciding whether or not it’s appropriate for your kids, or hop away altogether.