Peter Rabbit 2 (2021) poster

Peter Rabbit 2 (2021)


aka Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

USA/Australia. 2021.


Director – Will Gluck, Screenplay – Patrick Burleigh & Will Gluck, Based on the Characters Created by Beatrix Potter, Producers – Catherine Bishop, Will Gluck, Jodi Hildebrand & Zareh Nalbandian, Photography – Peter Menzies, Jr., Music – Dominic Lewis, Animation Director – Simon Pickard, Visual Effects Supervisor – Will Reichelt, Visual Effects/Animation – Animal Logic (Supervisor – Matt Middleton), Visual Effects – Method Studios (Supervisor – Josh Simmonds), Special Effects Supervisor – Dan Oliver, Production Design – Roger Ford. Production Company – Columbia Pictures/2.0 Entertainment/MRC/Animal Logic Entertainment/Olive Bridge Entertainment.


Rose Byrne (Bea), Domhnall Gleeson (Thomas McGregor), David Oyelowo (Nigel Basil-Jones)


James Corden (Peter Rabbit), Lennie James (Barnabas), Colin Moody (Benjamin Bunny), Margot Robbie (Flopsy/The Narrator), Elizabeth Debicki (Mopsy), Aimee Horne (Cottontail), Hayley Atwell (Mittens), Damon Herriman (Tom Kitten), Rupert Degas (Samuel Whiskers), Sia (Mrs Tiggy-Winkle), Sam Neill (Tommy Brock), Ewen Leslie (Pigling Bland), Will Reichelt (J.W. Rooster II), Matt Villa (Felix De’er)


Bea and Thomas McGregor marry and settle together in the cottage. Thomas has made an agreement with the animals that they have free reign of the property as long as they leave his tomatoes alone, although he is still suspicious of Peter. Bea then receives an offer from a publisher to print her book of stories about Peter and the other animals. She is promised great success but begins to have doubts when the publisher starts wanting to change the characters. Annoyed at being portrayed as the malevolent mischief-maker among the group by the planned marketing campaign, Peter wanders away and encounters Barnabas who claims to be an old friend of his father. Believing he has found his true nature, Peter is drawn into the activities of Barnabas and his associates, robbing houses and stealing vegetables.

Peter Rabbit (2018) was a film based on Beatrix Potter’s children’s books, using CGI to bring the animals to life in live-action. Beatrix Potter created some sweetly genteel children’s stories that are much loved. The film on the other hand was an abomination that reduced Beatrix Potter to raucous and inane slapstick sequences that were a complete antithesis of the original stories. It is maybe one of the worst adaptations of a source work that one has ever come across. Peter Rabbit made this site’s Worst Films of 2018 list. This is a sequel.

Peter Rabbit 2 offers fairly much the same complement as before – a slight change among some of the voice cast, while the major development this time is having Thomas and Bea get married. Bea is also specifically made into an analogue of Beatrix Potter – her books about the animals use the titles of Potter’s books, and there is talk of how she is using her earnings from the books to fund conservation of the countryside (as Beatrix Potter did).

Though it makes more of an adherence to Beatrix Potter’s stories in some of these details, the sequel is still up to the same old tricks as its predecessor. This is evident from the point of the opening scene where the wedding takes place and within less than two minutes the animals have trashed the ceremony with various rabbits kicking Domhnall Gleeson in the face in slow-motion moves, before Domhnall is ignominiously carried away attached upside down to a balloon by his leg.

Domhnall Gleeson gets kicked in the face by Peter during the opening scene of Peter Rabbit 2 (2021)
Domhnall Gleeson gets kicked in the face by Peter during the opening scene

Overall, I didn’t find Peter Rabbit 2 as awful as the first film. The animal characterisations are somewhat more in the direction of the cuteness they should have – the model here seems something of the Paddington films as opposed to Beatrix Potter. But then every so often the awful slapstick inanity is allowed out of the bag – the animals aboard a train with Mopsy on a sugar-high clinging to the outside; Barnabas taking the animals on a raid of a family home and they making an escape disguised as a human inside a coat and hat; Peter and Barnabas hiding in recycling bins and playing Whack-a-Mole with their pursuers; the raid on the farmer’s market. There is also the grating use of pop songs to punctuate what is happening even if the original lyrics of the song are wildly divergent from the use to which they are put – particularly grating is the use of Green Day’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams (2004).

The B plot this time is the old hat one about Peter being lured onto the wrong side of the tracks by a streetwise rabbit (voiced by Lennie James). These scenes are predictable and arranged around slapstick sequences. Not to mention Peter falling into a life of urban crime seems a long way away from any of the stories that Beatrix Potter ever wrote. In this regard, the film cynically seems to want to have its cake and eat it. It sets Bea up as a character creating a series of genteel animal stories of which the big dramatic climax is to have the animals sit down to drink tea. Against this, it creates a cardboard figure of a crass publisher and his marketing department who wants to push everything towards action, boat chases and the likes – only for the film to go and provide those exact same things anyway. This is maybe the first kids’ film that sets the villain’s motives up and then proceeds to copy them itself.

Trailer here

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