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Peter Rabbit

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Starring James Corden and Domhnall Gleeson

This very entertaining animated/live-action hybrid is an excellent film release for the pending holidays.

At times it’s a little too frantic and over reliant on musical cues, but it remains embedded in grounded character motivations, small-scale drama and sympathetic characters. The CGI is terrific and brings its title character to life in a charming way with a good script and direction.

While James Corden’s very English Peter Rabbit starts out as a bit of an idiot, he quickly changes and we soon figure out that Peter is acting as a way of grieving for his late parents. Even if you’re not into mischievous animals, the core human relationship between the young Mr. Thomas McGregor ( Domhnall Gleeson) and Bea (Rose Byrne) earns our affection and attention. After a prologue where an elderly Mr. McGregor (Sam Neill) suddenly drops dead in the middle of a rabbit chase, his nephew, a recently fired toy store executive (Domhnall Gleeson) finds himself the custodian of the family farm.

Although he initially plans to sell it outright, a needed change of scenery and the mutual interest between him and the very animalfriendly Bea (Rose Byrne) keeps him around. But his own personal feelings about the various animals that have made the farm into their second home put him at odds with both the local wildlife and his animal-loving neighbor. And when Peter realizes that he may have a rival for Bea’s affections, he makes it clear that he views his neighbor as a surrogate mother, not a would-be lover. And he goes out of his way to not turn Mr. McGregor into an outright villain. There is a scene however where he confronts his nemesis and decries how this rabbit has sabotaged his newfound tranquility, and he kind of has a good point. Peter’s reckless and arguably selfish actions are indeed called out for endangering himself and his entire family, and there are moments of earned tough love delivered by his three sisters and his cousin.

“Peter Rabbit” is a funny and warm family friendly film. The performances (including Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley and Elizabeth Debicki as Peter’s sisters) are delightful, the physical humor is charming and the human relationships keep us suitably entertained when the bunnies aren’t bouncing around. Although it’s a kids’ movie with talking animals it doesn’t lose its humanity Rated PG 8 out of 10