The first Peter Rabbit film had Beatrix Potter purists outraged yet it made little difference to the film’s huge box office success. It’s little surprise then that a film about a group of rabbits has produced another rabbit film imaginatively titled Peter Rabbit 2. This picks up straight off the back of the first one with Tom (Domhnall Gleeson) and Bea (Rose Byrne) getting married and with their family of rabbits inspiring Bea’s book with Peter and his friends Mopsy, Flopsy, Cotton tail et al.
It’s her book that attracts interest from a London publisher Nigel Basil-Jones (David Oyelowo) and she brings Peter and friends along with Tom from their Gloucester country home to the London publisher’s office where she , in the name of commercial interest, is persuaded to dilute her vision and turning the rabbits into urban gang wearing high tops and crop tops and seeing their adventures take them to the beach and even into space! It’s a savvy bit of self deprecation by director and co-writer Will Gluck as this was the main complaint against his first film and he’s scattered this second film with a load of jokes at his own expense. ‘Did you read the book?’ asks one character. He’s also not been afraid to poke fun at how James Cordon irritates people getting him to deliver certain lines in a consciously whiny voice. For the Brits he’s an irritant regardless.
1995 hit Babe about a piglet saw a sequel take its central character into the big bad city and Peter Rabbit 2 follows the same path although it’s far less dark than Babe 2’s take on the dangers. And almost as a reposte to the first films critics Peter Rabbit 2 plunders the works of Dickens not only with a few choice literary quotes but also of its Oliver Twist storyline when Peter falls into bad company with the thieving Barnabas, a cockney villain street rabbit (anyone not living in London may be interested to know that the streets are not paved with gold but cluttered with feral rabbits) who embroils him into a huge heist of dried fruit at a Farmer’s Market. It’s interesting to note that as a native New Yorker Will Gluck sees these venues as just as much a place of villainy with daylight robbery a regular occurrence because frankly have you seen the price of the produce ? A small packet of fudge for £10! Really? How do they make a profit? But we digress…..It’s Peter who drags his friends into the heist with his new found friend.
With UK cinemas now reopening this will be a treat for children and Peter Rabbit 2 is arguably better than the first film with a smartly subversive script with some life lessons (‘You’re not stupid. You’re young and you make mistakes’) and the animals will have kids enthralled.
Here’s the Peter Rabbit 2 trailer…….