The bunnies are fluffy, the produce is bountiful, and the antics are constantly energetic in “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway.” And but it’s onerous to flee the sensation that Will Gluck’s follow-up to 2018’s “Peter Rabbit” is straining to seize the fast-paced, meta whimsy of the unique whereas additionally cramming in a complete bunch of latest characters and themes. The outcome feels slowed down, albeit with sporadic moments of playful inspiration.
This live-action, CG-animated journey as soon as once more seems spectacular, although, with the high-tech, speaking creatures built-in seamlessly into the movie’s twee English location. You actually really feel as when you may attain out and contact Peter’s furry head and provides him just a little pet—when you’d need to, that’s. The script from director Gluck and Patrick Burleigh, impressed by the beloved Beatrix Potter youngsters’ guide collection, pushes Peter’s impishness into territory that’s extra obnoxious, supposedly for the aim of studying life classes about … not promoting out?
That’s one of many troubling through-lines right here: a consciousness of commercializing these characters by taking them from their conventional, quiet setting and putting them in a zanier, modern one whereas additionally making enjoyable of that selection. Rose Byrne’s character—named Bea, in case you couldn’t work out the connection—is now the creator of a candy, illustrated guide about Peter and his animal pals, with plans for a 23-book collection, the identical quantity Potter produced. As Bea finds herself succumbing to the thrills of fame and success, one of many rabbits remarks that the entire enterprise will in all probability be tailored into “a sassy hippest for business acquire—in all probability by an American,” with a realizing look into the digital camera. And finally, Peter and his friends go on the sort of outrageous adventures Bea believes could be too implausible for her characters and too unconscionable for her as an author.
On the movie’s begin, although, Bea and Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson, bodily sport as all the time) is getting married, surrounded by their pals and the cattle. Mr. McGregor and Peter (voiced as soon as once more by the ever-present James Corden) have reached an uneasy détente over the 2 loves they share: greens and Bea. However, when charismatic and good-looking writer Nigel Basil-Jones (David Oyelowo)—a reputation so British it may earn him a spot in Spinal Faucet—additionally takes a liking to Bea and her work, it complicates every part. A visit to London makes Peter understand his being was a villainous determine in Basil-Jones’ imagination and prescient of the Peter Rabbit universe. He figures: “Why not be a foul man if I’m simply going to get framed as one?” and takes up with a Fagin-like fellow rabbit, a road thief named Barnabas (Lennie James), and his gang of artful kittens.
The spotlight of this alliance is a grand scheme to rob the native farmers market—as a result of planning the heist is hilariously detailed, and likewise, as a result of the depiction of the artisanal specialties in retailers is so common. Throughout a home housebreaking, Barnabas additionally has a particularly relatable line about how each fridge comprises a costly bottle of champagne, simply ready to be opened on a special day that by no means comes. (My 11-year-old even acknowledged that one: “It’s true!” he leaned over and whispered throughout a screening.) In the meantime, Peter’s true household and pals—together with narrator Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki), Cottontail (Aimee Horne), and Benjamin (Colin Moody)—principally present up right here and there for wacky interludes, together with Cottontail’s discovery of the wonders of jellybeans.
There’s an amusing working gag through which a busking squirrel (singer-songwriter Tim Minchin) simply occurs to indicate up in every single place, on a regular basis, and carry out precisely the tune that sums up how Peter is feeling. However numerous the self-referential jokes listed here are callbacks to the primary movie: the deer within the headlights, the rooster who thinks he makes the sun come up every morning. Positive, you gotta play the hits, however, these bits really fell flat this time.
By indulging in the very same instincts it insists are problematic artistically, “Peter Rabbit 2” needs to have its carrot and eat it, too. However perhaps that gained’t hassle you. Possibly you’ll be thankful for a return to the theater and the chance to take action along with your children. In that regard, the sequel hops alongside in a sufficiently bouncy trend.