Starring (or featuring the voices of): James Corden, Rose Byrne, Domnhall Gleason, Lenny James, Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debecki, Sam Neil, Hayley Atwell, and Sia.
Directed By: Will Gluck
Where I Watched It: Netflix
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
The plot: Picking up basically where the first film left off, Peter (Corden) and his extended animal family now live sin somewhat harmony with their respective humans (Byrne and Gleason), the former of whom uses the cute critters for her own work… much the same way Beatrix Potter did by writing the books. Get it? It’s like..this is real life.
But all us bit perfect in Oeter’s life, as he has always been a rapscallion, and after a journey to the city, he meets an older rabbit, Barnabas (James) that claims to have known Peter’s father, and knows that Peter is destined to be a grand criminal just like him… and Peter’s dear old dad? Stealing from McGregor’s farm is one thing, but will Peter turn to a life of crime?
What Works: If you love James Corden, this film is just dripping with his personality. Just like the original, he rightly takes front and center, and this film is just as much a direct reflection of the same generic personality he typically displays across platforms, whether it is doing Carpool Karoke, or yelling at Melissa McCarthy in Super Intelligence. INothing wrong with consistency, if you love him. Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, and Kevin James largely built their careers with very limited range.
There are some moments here that work, like Peter’s eagerness to learn more about this rabbit that used to hang out with his pops, and there’s a moment where the movie feels like it could almost go the Ocean’s 11 route, and almost gets interesting. I think, although adults will be far less interested in the sequel, kids will still enjoy it. If anything, it seemed to turn up the notch on childish humor, and strip away the human elements that made the first film tolerable.
What Doesn’t Work; A lot of what i just said. The humans, now married, have lost that complexity to their story, the connection that the adults had with the two neighbors being both on different sides of the vermin debate, while also falling for each other. here, they are already married, and now that Gleason is a good guy, it just feels so awkward when he’s subjected to physical violence for the sake of comedy. Like, he’s still the butt of the joke, even though he spends the majority of the film trying to help Peter and the rest, while also keeping a very unnecessary human villain (David oyelowo) at bay. Also, what’s up with the sequel introducing two main antagonists that both happen to be black? The voice actor for Barnabas, plus Oyelowo. Is that how they decided to diversify this franchise?
Honestly, because the film separates Peter in what seems like his own story, the few moments we get with any of the other Potter regulars are few and far between. They are rope in, usually as a group, and never really fully fleshed out, which the sequel could have done. potter wrote books about a lot of these characters aside from just Peter, so it might have been nice to see these other beloved literary staples getting more centered focus in the plot instead of getting sidelined, just so that they can later come into play, only to show Peter the grand moral of this story.
Not that the first Peter rabbit is cinematic gold that will forever be remembered and cherished, but it was at least a decent family film that wasn’t too awful for adults to sit through. This one goes in a different direction, one that will seem far more immature to those over the age of 13, and makes some really bizarre story choices that ultimately make this an inferior sequel. There’s just so much source material, and a world already built, with a host of beloved characters. It’s such a shame that this was what we got as the follow up.
The Blind Perspective: I found that the audio description here is mostly just a nice filler, and compliments only as needed. There are maybe a. Few sequences where the characters aren’t talking, but for the most part, it is almost impossible to get Peter to shut up, plus Margot Robbie’s character narrates the film as it progresses, often filling in some of those dead moments. It’s not the most effusive description, often because the film’s constant desire for noise makes it hard to jump in with any additional description. But it is there, and appreciated when it appears.
Final Thoughts: I didn’t review the original Peter Rabbit when it came out, as it did so during my break, but I would not have given that film a tremendously high grade. I don’t like to try and put grades on films I saw years ago, I like to keep it fresh. I just know, it was not an A or A- level work. And the sequel is definitely a step down from what was already a good not great work. Adults will get left behind here, and David oyelowo in particular needs to start choosing his films better. not only was his role not important, it was entirely unnecessary to the larger plot, and his characters existence is just baffling.
Final Grade: C-