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MOVIE REVIEW

Peter Rabbit also known as “Las travesuras de Peter Rabbit,” “Nyúl Péter,” “Pedro Coelho,” “Pelle Kanin,” “Petar Zecimir,” “Peter Hase,” “Peter Iepurasul,” “Petter Kanin,” “Petteri Kaniini,” “Piotrus Królik,” “Tavsan Peter,” “Králíček Petr,” “Πίτερ Ράμπιτ,” «Кролик Петрик», «Кролик Питер»

MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for some rude humor and action.

Reviewed by: Shawna Ellis
CONTRIBUTOR

Average—somewhat offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family
Genre:
Animation Family Adventure Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 33 min.
Year of Release:
2018
USA Release:
February 9, 2018 (wide—3,725 theaters)
DVD: May 1, 2018
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

Getting along with neighbors

How our selfish actions can impact others

How to seek forgiveness from those we have wronged

How can I know what is RIGHT and WRONG? Answer

How can I discern whether a particular activity is WRONG? Answer

Animals in the Bible

Kid Explorers™
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures
Featuring: James Corden … Peter Rabbit (voice)
Margot RobbieFlopsy (voice)
Daisy Ridley … Cotton-tail (voice)
Domhnall GleesonMr. McGregor
Elizabeth Debicki … Mopsy (voice)
Rose ByrneBea
Sam NeillOlder Mr. McGregor
Sia … Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle (voice)
Emma Louise Saunders … Pretty Lady
See all »
Director: Will Gluck—“Annie” (2014), “Fired Up!” (2009), “Easy A” (2010)
Producer: 2.0 Entertainment
Animal Logic Entertainment [Australia]
See all »
Distributor: Distributor: Columbia Pictures. Trademark logo.
Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

“He’s got a taste for adventure”

Whenever I hear a film described as “irreverent” I cringe a little inside. The film “Peter Rabbit” has been described in such a way. To be “irreverent” means that the usual respect or honor is not shown. In “Peter Rabbit,” we have a movie which describes itself as edgy and irreverent, but which is blatantly marketed toward young children. This should give parents some pause.

Although I am not familiar with all of the Beatrix Potter tales, from those I do remember there is a simple story in which the animal characters make poor choices which result in an almost immediate consequence or a narrow escape which teaches a lesson. In the classic stories, Squirrel Nutkin has most of his tail bitten off when he has taunted the owl one too many times. Jemimah Puddleduck loses all of her eggs and is almost eaten herself when she trusts the fox. Peter Rabbit narrowly escapes death at the hands of Mr. McGregor, and his mother doses him with chamomile tea while his sisters get a treat.

The film “Peter Rabbit” does not have the simple and straightforward morality of these old tales. Peter’s mother and father are dead, and as the new leader of his family, Peter repeatedly puts his cousin and younger sisters in harm’s way as he ignores the teaching of his parents and takes needless risks in Mr. McGregor’s garden. Yet, he is called “the hero of our tale” by the narrator, which may give impressionable children the wrong idea of what a hero should be. Peter is certainly not a hero… he steals, bosses his family, taunts, plays cruel pranks, is callous toward the death of humans he doesn’t like, and lives a very arrogant and self-centered life. This film is marketed toward young children with toys and its cute animal characters, but children will receive a very mixed message. Parents will probably assume beforehand that Peter will be a rebellious and mischievous rabbit, but as the film progresses they may be shocked at the lengths he goes to in order to get his way. They may also wonder if he will ever face the consequences of his reckless and even cruel actions.

When the consequences do finally come, they are devastating, and they actually have more impact upon those Peter cares about than for himself. And just as the consequences are big, so is the regret and humility that Peter feels. Finally, we get the payoff and the moral of the tale. We see Peter move toward being a leader as he admits his wrongdoing and works to make things right to help those he loves. But I wonder, will the younger viewers see that Peter is finally reaping what he has sown? Or will they just remember the “hero” bunny’s dangerous and selfish antics which are played for laughs?

While Peter and the other rabbits are destructive and even occasionally ruthless, the human characters have their own problems. Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) is sometimes volatile and at other times endearing, but even when he is charming he is also dishonest in his relationship with his neighbor. He sometimes presents a different character in order to please her, and systematically hides his ill intentions toward the rabbits because he knows she would disapprove. Bea (Rose Byrne) is kind in her way, but very skewed in her thinking that rabbits are pure and perfect creatures and that a human is never justified in trying to keep them out of a garden.

This movie can lead to much discussion about right and wrong, about how our selfish actions can impact others, and about how to seek forgiveness from those we have wronged. But I think parents will need to be purposeful in pointing out these lessons, because some children could come away without grasping the moral of the story and instead have just spent an hour and half with very bad role models.

How can I know what is RIGHT and WRONG? Answer

How can I discern whether a particular activity is WRONG? Answer

What is SIN AND WICKEDNESS? Answer

What is GOODNESS? Answer

What is RIGHTEOUSNESS? Answer

Are we living in a MORAL STONE AGE? Answer

This film is visually stunning. From the sweeping views of gorgeous countryside to the tiny intricacies of Mr. McGregor’s garden, everything we see is rich with color and detail. The animal characters are beautifully animated and textured. While not exactly realistic, they are very believable and are rendered in such a way that they can express personality and emotion. One can see that a great deal of work went into making this a visually appealing movie.

The main human characters give excellent performances. Domhnall Gleeson is surprisingly comedic as the eccentric Thomas McGregor, and Rose Byrne is convincing as the friendly artistic neighbor who thinks that rabbits can do no wrong. The voice acting for the animal characters is humorous and fits the personalities of each very well, although I sometimes had some trouble distinguishing between the three rabbit sisters. I’m not familiar with James Corden, but I think he perfectly captures the rude and cocky attitude of this portrayal of Peter.

This movie is a far cry from the slow and gentle pacing of the classic Potter stories. The action is immediate and almost continuous. As it progresses, the situations become more and more unbelievable—to the point of utter ridiculousness. The music is also rollicking and fast-paced, with modern songs interspersed throughout. I was not able to catch all the lyrics, but the general tone of the music fit Peter’s arrogant and reckless personality. I have a feeling that some of these songs may not make for ideal repeated listening.

Although there is some light romance, this is primarily a comedy. Children in my viewing audience often erupted in laughter and exclamations of delight. Most of the humor for children comes in the form of comedic violence, in which this production abounds almost to gratuitous excess. More on this in the “content of concern” section below.

Adults can find humor in more nuanced jokes. Thankfully, very little of this comes from the usual sexual innuendo but instead is a result of clever writing. The movie is funny and entertaining, with enough character and heart to make it worth viewing… with some cautions for impressionable viewers. Parents should carefully discern if this movie would be a good fit for their impressionable children.

Content of Concern

This film is refreshingly devoid of profanity and blasphemies. I never once heard any foul language or the Lord’s name misused. If only more movies today could do the same! The British insult “twit” is used a few times, there is one use of “heck” and two of “butt,” as well as words like “imbecile” and “idiot.”

Potty humor is also kept at a minimum, especially for a film involving animals. There is one scene in which there is literal toilet humor, as a human character sets out to demonstrate the cleanliness of a toilet by drinking from it with a straw. Thankfully this is interrupted before he drinks.

Unmarried human characters share a single brief kiss. In a fit of anger, a man sits astride a large stuffed bear and punches it, then bends over to kiss it while apologizing, then punches it again. Something about this seemed awkward and unnecessary. A man holds his hands protectively over his privates as rabbits pummel him with vegetables. When he removes his hands to go into a yoga relaxation pose Peter says, “You know where to aim!”, and he is hit multiple times in the groin (partly obscured). A man is briefly shown shirtless and another time in boxers, both played for comedic purposes. As a man bends over, his pants slip down and a couple inches of his crack are revealed. A rabbit contemplates putting a carrot there in a lengthy scene.

Probably the worst joke in the film is made by a rooster who is always surprised by the rising of the sun. One morning he laments, “If I had known today was coming, I wouldn’t have fertilized all those eggs last night. Now I have to be involved and present!” Thankfully this will probably go right over most children’s heads. Later, we see the rooster with many chicks, and he admits that they are “the best thing that has ever happened to me.”

A party takes place in which animals act wild and crazy, as if in a fraternity house. Animals shave the fur off a fox’s chest while he is passed out. Later he runs away covering himself as though naked, but in another scene he purposefully “streaks” past. One rabbit admits that she had thought she was looking at someone’s jacket buttons, but that they were actually just his nipples. A character claims she can read lips but misinterprets, saying “all the elephants around here have flatulence” and “she has a thing for man-butts.”

The rabbit siblings’ parents are both dead. In flashback form, using beautiful Potter-style traditional animation, we see that the father was killed by Mr. McGregor (it is obscured) and was baked into a pie. We do not know what happened to the mother. Peter sometimes talks to his parents as if they can hear him. Although he often implies that he wants to make them proud, he continually disobeys his late father’s warnings about the garden.

The elder Mr. McGregor dies on-screen of a heart attack. This is shocking and somewhat disturbing, and many children in the audience were heard asking, “What happened?” The death is followed by a brief montage of grotesque close-up images showing his unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle. Peter is not upset by his death and actually takes credit for causing it. In one scene, rabbits shoot a known food allergen into someone’s mouth (to kill him, it is assumed), and he must use an Epi-pen to save himself. When the character is revived, the animals are surprised and claim that he “must be a sorcerer.”

There are two brief jokes about man being Evolved. Meditation is mentioned, and a couple practices yoga together. A man flies into a fit of rage and wreaks havoc in a store.

The constant violence is probably the largest drawback of this film. Yet, it is also what elicited the most laughter from adults and especially from the children in the audience. Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the violence is that it has no real consequences… characters are not shown with lasting injuries, even though they should have broken bones, cuts, bruises ad bloody wounds. This is similar to what happens in cartoons, but because the human characters are real, I believe it is a more dangerous example. Humans are caught in traps, electrocuted, thrown against walls, knocked down, punched, hit with vegetables by a slingshot, and more. One rabbit character repeatedly leaps from great heights and says she can do so because she has lots more ribs left to break. She is never injured, even after very hard falls. A hedgehog is shocked on an electric fence. A group of singing sparrows are hit in a repeated gag. Rabbits narrowly avoid being hit with hoes, caught in traps and blown up with explosives. A few children in the theater screamed and cried at the latter. I found it sadly interesting that children laughed at the bad things which happened to the humans, but were frightened by the thought of the cute rabbits being hurt.

Perhaps this is what has left me the most unsettled about “Peter Rabbit.” It is not that the film itself is so bad, but that the reaction of the audience reveals a skewed way of thinking in which humans are the enemy. People getting hurt is comedic material, but rabbits being in danger is cause for alarm. This sort of thinking shows a low view of humans which are created in the likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). We are image bearers, and have been given dominion over the Earth. That does not give us license to harass or needlessly harm animals, as some might think, but neither is the opposite true… we are not to think of animals as being of more value than humans. Jesus made that quite clear when He said in Matthew 10:31, “… you are of more value than many sparrows.” We can know that we are of more value to God than rabbits, for that matter. God did not send Jesus to give His life for animals, but for humans. It is only to humans that God has given the right to become the children of God (John 1:12). Animals are a wonderful part of God’s creation, but are not of the same value as humans.

Yet in the theater, children shrieked with laughter when Peter and his friends hurt Thomas McGregor, but cried out in fear when the tables were turned. Why is this? If you choose to see this film with your children, be prepared to discuss this.

“Peter Rabbit” is an entertaining movie with some concerns and some redeeming qualities. You will have to decide if the heavy comedic violence and recklessness of the first three quarters of the film are balanced out by the last fourth of the film in which forgiveness is sought and a lesson is learned.

  • Violence: Moderate
  • Profane language: None
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Minor
  • Nudity: Minor
  • Sex: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This movie is laugh out loud funny. It’s very cute, comical and tender hearted. There is a great deal of slap stick comedy as Peter, his sisters and a cousin all try to raid Mr. McGregor’s garden and keep it for themselves, even when a great nephew inherits it. My kids did hear one whispered bad word, the D-word, but I did not.

It shows the emptiness of losing one’s parents and the need to be loved and have family. I find it appropriate for all ages.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Andrea, age 45 (USA)
Positive—The movie was actually much better than I expected! I saw it with my 12 year old. I wouldn’t recommend it for very young children, but for tweens, it was very funny and had a great “moral of the story” moment at the end.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Chrystal, age 41 (USA)
Positive—Enjoyed this movie a lot. It was a romantic comedy with a bunch of crazy bunnies. The film had good effects the bunnies look real and so did the rest of the gang. Loved the country side and the garden scenes very pretty. Lots of laughs and fun with Peter and his friends. Perfect for kids.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Sharon Ulstad, age 57 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I agree with the reviewers comments regarding this film. The inherent danger in any entertainment that is geared toward children, is the possibility of the negative behavior of the main character taking center stage over the “lesson learned” in the end. In a full length feature film, the negative behavior can go on for over an hour before we finally see 15 minutes of resolution. Children can easily remember the funny and rollicking negative behaviors and forget the apology given later. I would add that the humor in the movie is often tongue in cheek British style humor which is either funny, or it falls flat (like the man punching the bear). I would not recommend taking young children to this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kay, age 53 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I took my 3 year old granddaughter to see this movie, basically because my sister-in-law said she thought it was good. My granddaughter did not like it. It didn’t hold her attention, and she kept asking when it was going to be over, so much so that my wife actually took her out for a few minutes. I thought for a kids movie it was very violent, with a lot of things being thrown at the man through a large part of the movie. It might be okay for an older child who might pick up on the subtle jokes, but not for a young child. As for myself, I thought it was fairly average for an animated movie, far from the funniest one I ever saw. I would not really recommend it unless you have seen everything else.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Randy, age 63 (USA)
Negative—Worst movie I’ve ever seen in my life. Theater on a Sunday was only ⅓ full, and, thankfully, I did not see any children in the audience—mainly old hippies.

The plot showed that hard working, honest, straight-laced people are generally evil. On the other hand, if you are a hedonist, and you love to party at other people’s expense, you are generally good. Film shows vandalism, greed, gluttony, stealing, severe destruction of property, and vengeance as all basically good things that good, normal people do. So who are the good people in the world? Hippie artists that paint art that is very bad (even the movie admits that the art is terrible). The heroine is a plain, hippie-type that lives next door to the farmer McGregor. She is an extreme radical, in that she does not believe in the private ownership of anything. If you grow a tiny garden in your backyard, you cannot protect it, she tells the nephew of McGregor (McGregor junior). Rather, every existing form of wildlife has the right to voraciously consume it all before the farmer can. What this film is getting at is weird. I did not hear a single person in the theater laugh loudly even once (with the exception of one patron who would chuckle mildly every 10 minutes or so.)

I would not have stayed until the end, but I was with my spouse and an adult child, and I did not want to cause discord. As we were walking out, everyone said they thought the movie was horrible. So why didn’t we leave? I don’t know.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Jared Michaels, age 65 (USA)
Negative—Horrible morality. Pushes the secular view that if you’re lazy and a thief, that’s good. If you’re hard working and diligent, that is bad.

Also, there is a hippie in this movie who sits around painting horrible paintings and she is portrayed as a highly desirable star of the movie. She is very pro nature and believes that animals should be considered higher than humans in the eyes of humans. According to the morals here, if you grow food, that food is for animals first because you have no right to put up a fence and protect the food. Under that theory, the human race should just starve to death and let the animals take back the earth.

This is typical liberal morality. Vandalism is considered a good thing and necessary. If you’re morally upright, you’re just a “stick in the mud.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Jerome, age 64 (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.

Secular Movie Critics
…the computer-generated animals are charming, albeit lacking in the particular gentle winsomeness of Potter’s originals…
Glenn Kenny, The New York Times
…The animation technology is top-notch, but the gentle spirit of Beatrix Potter’s books is subsumed into a chaotic, violent mayhem, manically soundtracked to the day's hits. …
Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
…For a Brit-inflected talking-animal picture in the wake of the “Paddington” series, it’s not good enough. …
Jesse Hassenger, The A.V. Club
…If you’re expecting “Paddington”-level profundity and whimsical adventure you’re going to be sorely disappointed. …
Marc Savlov, The Austin Chronicle
…it feels like the animators are at war with the writers, and the loudest of the two groups tends to win out at every turn. …
Emily Yoshida, New York Magazine (Vulture)
…easy chuckles are no substitute for genuine charm. …
Susan Wloszczyna, RogerEbert.com
…For anyone familiar with the original Peter Rabbit, it’s a little depressing to see its storybook charm reduced to slapstick. You can only see a person get electrocuted so many times before the gag wears thin, and with it the movie’s welcome. …
Barbara VanDenburgh, Arizona Republic
…The movie…resembles a sloppily tended garden plot where crude sight gags and violent set-pieces flourish like weeds, but anything resembling actual humor or delight refuses to take root. …
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
…takes entirely too many liberties… Beatrix Potter fans will be torn between wanting to hug a photo-real Peter Rabbit and wanting to scream at what Hollywood has done with him. …[Beatrix Potter] almost certainly would have preferred for Peter…to have wound up in one of Mrs. McGregor’s infamous rabbit pies. …The moral here is, “They [the animals] were here first, we’re the latecomers”
Peter Debruge, Variety
…It is probably safe to say that [Beatrix] Potter would have hated the brash party animal that Sony has turned [Peter Rabbit] into… an arrogant frat boy…
Looper
…Potter’s relative, actress Nadine Hanwell, told The Mail…that the film was “horrific.” She said: “Beatrix Potter would be turning in her grave. I hope parents don’t take their children to see the film. She would absolutely loathe this.” …
Ned Donavan, The Scottish Mail
Comments from non-viewers
Neutral—As a parent and a social worker I have concerns over the scene in which old Mr. McGregor is working in the garden and his bottom is partially showing. In this scene, it is insinuated that Peter is going to be placing or partially placing a carrot in Mr. McGregor’s bottom. My 9 year old picked up on this just from watching the trailers on television. This is sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and not appropriate for children. It has been considered “imitative behavior” under movie reviews for this movie. Well that is not acceptable! It is a shame that a children’s movie can’t be made without any adult content or inappropriate behavior.
—CW, age (USA)
Negative—From watching the previews and discussion about this movie, I will not take my children to see it. Even though I love the actors and James Corden is one of my favorites. He’s down to earth, someone I considered a family man. So, I was rather shocked when Peter Rabbit exclaimed, “Jesus bloody Christ!” as if it was profanity. I actually felt a pang in my heart, knowing what Jesus went through on the cross. He’s already shed his blood for us. My heart breaks to hear his name spat out so irreverently. In a movie created for children… it’s so disappointing.
—Katrina, age (USA)