REVIEW: ‘Peter Rabbit’ a family-friendly film with a moral tale
February 10th, 2018 / By: Michael Foust / comments
Thomas McGregor is a self-centered department store employee who wants only one thing out of life: to climb the corporate ladder.
Of course, life rarely goes as planned.
It started going downhill when he learned that the company slackie got the much-coveted promotion. Then, Thomas discovered that a great uncle (“Mr. McGregor”) passed away and left him a rural cottage. He hates the countryside. Soon thereafter, he got fired.
So instead of designing picturesque displays in big-city store aisles, he’s now cleaning up an old house and tending to an out-of-control garden. And we haven’t even mentioned the rabbits. There are five of them, including one who has a mischievous streak. Thomas hates rabbits.
Yet these cute-and-furry-creatures live with the next-door neighbor Bea, an animal lover who just happens to be single. Thomas and Bea surely would make a good couple – that is, if he doesn’t kill her pets first.
It’s all part of the new film Peter Rabbit (PG), which is out in theaters this weekend and stars Domhnall Gleeson (The Last Jedi) as Thomas, Rose Byrne (X-Men: Apocalypse, Annie) as Bea, James Corden (The Late Late Show) as Peter Rabbit, Daisy Ridley (The Last Jedi) as Cottontail, Margot Robbie (The Legend of Tarzan) as Flopsy, and Elizabeth Debicki (Guardians of the Galaxy) as Mopsy.
The film is based on the books by Beatrix Potter and – like Paddington -- features computer-generated animals interacting in the real world. Peter Rabbit is not as squeaky-clean as Paddington or Paddington 2, but nevertheless stays within the family-friendly realm and provides a story that most families will welcome. It’s far more wholesome than the majority of animated films. It’s also funny.
Still, it does contain slapstick humor similar to that in Home Alone, even if it includes a redemptive and positive ending.
Warning: minor/moderate spoilers!
Moderate. Gardeners chase rabbits around the garden with a rake and hoe, and set traps for them. Someone dies of a heart attack. We learn that Peter’s father was killed by Mr. McGregor and that his mother passed away, too. Peter claims he killed Mr. McGregor. Someone tries to kill the rabbits with dynamite. A rabbit and a human character fight. An electric fence is set up to kill the rabbits, but it backfires. The rabbits set traps throughout the house for a human character, and he falls for all of them. The rabbits tie the electric fence current to doorknobs.
Minimal. Thomas and Bea obviously like one another, but we see them kiss (briefly) only once. Thomas tells her he loves her. We see the top of a man’s bottom, and a rabbit places a carrot in his underwear. We briefly see Thomas without a shirt and also in his boxers. (Neither scene involves Bea.) The rabbits joke that one of the rabbits appears to be naked when he wears a brown shirt.
None. We hear “nipples” (1), “flatulent” (1), “butt” (2) and “naked.”
Other Positive Elements
We learn that Peter’s parents cared deeply for him and his three sisters. Bea turns the curmudgeon Thomas into a lover of nature.
Other Stuff You Might Want To Know
We discover that Thomas’ parents died and he was placed in a group home. A pig says about Peter Rabbit: “All hail the prodigal son.”
Thomas is allergic to blackberries – a fact that Peter Rabbit and his friends know all about. So, they pelt him with blackberries until one lands in his mouth, sparking an allergic reaction that forces him to use an EpiPen. He nevertheless passes out and wakes up in the middle of the night. It’s a scene that should not have been included in a children’s film – especially when many of the children watching it either have a food allergy or know someone who does. With a life-or-death issue like this, it’s no laughing matter.
Peter Rabbit gives us solid lessons on repentance (Peter Rabbit himself, Thomas), humility (Peter Rabbit, Thomas), forgiveness (Bea) and self-sacrifice (Thomas, the rabbits),
I must admit: Halfway through Peter Rabbit, I was concerned. The message was muddled: Rabbits should be given free reign in our gardens, and if we don’t acquiesce, they have the moral freedom to declare war and do whatever is necessary.
But slowly, the story changed. And by the end, our naughty little rabbit was seeing the error of his ways. I won’t give away the ending, but it’s not difficult to turn Peter Rabbit into a moral tale about repentance, forgiveness and second chances – lessons straight from Scripture. Not bad for a story about rabbits.
- What caused Peter Rabbit to repent? What caused Thomas to repent? Why did they not see their errors until it was nearly too late?
- What can we learn about forgiveness from Peter Rabbit’s story?
- Did Peter Rabbit and Thomas deserve a second chance? Why or why not?
- Was Thomas’ attitude about rabbits and animals wrong? Why or why not?
- Is it OK to harm animals to keep them from our gardens/crops?
Entertainment rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Peter Rabbit is rated PG for some rude humor and action.