Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (2021)
Director: Will Gluck
Writers: Will Gluck and Patrick Burleigh
Starring: James Corden, Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, David Oyelowo, Elizabeth Debicki, and Margot Robbie
Plot: As Bea’s book gains more popularity, Peter Rabbit struggles with his reputation as a bad boy.
Review: As a pretty lenient movie fan, it’s rare that I find myself in the minority when I dislike a movie. But, man, I do not get the Peter Rabbit movies. Why do these get a pass while so many other slapsticky kid stuff gets thrown to the side? Especially when it’s so far removed from the source material? Both of these movies have fresh ratings on Rotten Tomatoes! I just don’t get it.
To be completely honest, I didn’t hate the first movie. I probably would just barely give it a passing grade. It is what it is. It’s a dumb, slapsticky movie for kids. I didn’t laugh at all of the physical humor, but there was the occasional throw away line that made me laugh. And, that’s mostly true for this one as well. I’ll admit that I laughed out loud a couple of times, but I was mostly just having a pretty miserable time.
Here’s the thing though. Peter Rabbit is not meant to be like this. They’re Winnie the Pooh. The adventure comes from the fact that nothing really happens. It’s old fashioned. It’s serene. And, honestly, it’s very calming. This franchise is just a kick to the balls and then whatever pop culture joke James Corden thinks is funny. That almost worked for the first one. Because, like I said, it is what it is. However, this movie points it out. When Bea’s book becomes popular, there’s a corporation that wants to turn it into this “radical” franchise. They joke about sending the characters on spy missions, fighting crime, and adapting to the modern pop culture. Meanwhile, they do just that. Half of the first movie is Home Alone level hijinks and this one has an actual boat chase scene! It’s directly what you’re saying is wrong about modern pop culture. Sure. There’s a wink and a nod, so they aren’t completely oblivious. But, it’s hardly 21 Jump Street. This just felt like the writers having a moment of self realization and then continuing to do what they were already doing. Either that or they’re begging for their artistic integrity back as the studio mandates overwhelm them. Honestly, it’s probably the second one. And, if that’s true, I feel bad, but it still doesn’t make up for the crap you’re putting on screen. I just feels cynical.
But, honestly, I think this will hit with its target audience. The kids behind me at the theater loved it. It’s just silly for silly’s sake. There’s no rhyme or reason behind any of the gags. And the story seems to exist merely to get to the next one. It’s all over the place. But, kids don’t care. Pixar and Disney write fantastic kids’ movies, but they’re not doing it for the kids. They’re doing it for us. Because kids will eat all of this up regardless. They’re frankly kind of dumb. (Sorry if I insulted you or your children. It’s not fair to insinuate that you’re dumb for liking Peter Rabbit 2. I just don’t get it personally.) Honestly, maybe the villain of this movie and the studio at large is correct. Maybe kids wouldn’t have bought into old fashioned Peter Rabbit. But they could’ve at least tried.
As you can probably tell, I didn’t dig Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway. I didn’t hate it either though. It did make me laugh occasionally. The whole thing felt just a tad cynical and reeking of irony to me. But, also, this movie is currently sitting at 69% on Rotten Tomatoes, so what do I know? Right?
TL;DR: Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway tries to hide it’s cynicism with a wink and a nod, but it just did not work for me. \
Score: 4/10 (Bad)