When I sat down to see “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway,” I was sure I would hate the experience. But, in a shocking twist, I think I was the one in the audience who enjoyed it the most. The families around me were silent while I snickered in my seat quietly. I would have been louder, but I thought I’d look like an oddball.
In “Peter Rabbit 2,” Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson) and Bea (Rose Byrne) are now married and living with Peter (James Corden) and his rabbit family. Bored of life in the garden, Peter goes to the big city, where he meets shady thieves who hatch a plan to pull off a grand heist.
The movie first pulled me in when Thomas unfairly judged Peter Rabbit for being mischievous. I know it might sound silly, but Thomas’s relationship with Peter reminded me of mine with my mini golden doodle, Indy (short for Indiana Jones).
He is a rambunctious dog who barks to get my wife’s and my attention. And he won’t stop barking until he has it. I wish I could say I always handle his calls for attention well, but his bark can be ear-piercing. So there are moments when I snap and have a short outburst. Thomas is the same way, and I found his development with Peter was my best way into this family film.
Something else that I appreciated that likely went over kids’ heads was that the movie had meta-humor. In a subplot, Bea works with Nigel Basil-Jones, a prosperous publisher played by David Oyelowo, to publish her book about Peter and his friends. At first, Basil appreciates Bea’s unique story. Then he challenges her to modernize it. This request ties nicely with the film because I sensed behind-the-scenes conversations about updating Peter for this sequel.
Thankfully producers resisted. “Peter Rabbit 2” is a wholesome adventure that uses slapstick humor and clever wordplay to make audiences laugh. There are a few misplaced bits of modern comedy, but I can forgive them because they don’t devolve into potty humor.
The soundtrack is one aspect of the film that the producers modernized. “Peter Rabbit 2” features music from various genres, and each song is a bit on the nose thematically, but they’re mostly a good addition. One of my favorites was “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day, which a singing squirrel covered.
What worked so well about the squirrel was that the mouth movements were believable when he sang. That’s an aspect of this movie that isn’t getting enough attention. The visual effects team, lead by Will Reichelt, does a fantastic job. They’ve struck a balance between realism and cartoon animation. Each animal character has a unique personality.
I understand not liking a movie like this because it’s just a frivolous family film. Still, it’s important to appreciate the creative forces behind these films regardless of the genre or overall quality. The brilliant part about movies is that all of these creative people come together to make a film. It’s easy to focus on the direction, acting and writing but so much more goes into a movie.
I didn’t think I’d like this movie, but here I am defending the creative team behind it. “Peter Rabbit 2” isn’t a perfect film by any means, but it’s a lot of fun for both adults and kids. There are messages behind the slapstick and a crew of memorable characters that develop over the tight runtime. I’ll think twice before I unfairly judge a kid’s movie again because there is often more than initially meets the eye.