Peter Rabbit

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Peter Rabbit Movie Poster Image
Action-heavy take on classic books has peril, edgy jokes.
  • PG
  • 2018
  • 89 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 111 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 23 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational value

In the books, Peter learns not to go into Mr. McGregor's garden, where he isn't supposed to go. In the movie, Peter essentially gets away with all kinds of mayhem with a simple apology, though he does learn a few things about himself.

Positive messages

Characters make lots of iffy decisions (including lying and deceiving each other) and treat each other poorly; although there are apologies at the end, it seems a bit too little, too late for what transpired. But Peter and Thomas do find a way to get along in the end and work together for Bea's sake, and characters do talk about the fact that love isn't a finite thing: There's enough to go around for everyone. Peter also learns to listen to others ... sometimes. Jokes about Mr. McGregor dying of "bad lifestyle choices" (i.e., drinking and lots of junk food) and a few fat jokes at the expense of Benjamin bunny and a pig character -- but the movie does make eating vegetables look like fun.

Positive role models & representations

Peter apologizes in the end, but it seems more about saving himself than because he really regrets his reckless behavior. Thomas pretends to be a different kind of person than he really is to appeal to Bea. Bea is gentle and shows kindness toward animals but is sometimes quick to judge other humans. Peter and Thomas are awful to each other but do eventually make peace and work as a team to help Bea. Peter is protective of his sisters and Benjamin, but all the animals do steal from the garden. Some stereotyping (particularly a priggish pig character).

Violence & scariness

Peter and his sisters have lost both of their parents; their dad for sure was eaten in a pie by Old Mr. McGregor (there's a flashback to the sadness that caused). Old Mr. McGregor dies unexpectedly of a heart attack; Peter pokes his open eye to check. Several perilous situations (rabbits are caught by humans more than once), plus dynamite, explosions, and dangerous pranks; animals attack a human with blackberries after discovering he's allergic to them (he has a reaction and must treat himself with an EpiPen). Humans chase rabbits, threaten them with rakes, etc. One supporting character briefly seems to be dead (she's not). Threats of rabbit-eating. Lots of chasing and falling. Human characters are shocked repeatedly by electricity and snapped in rat traps. Joke about broken ribs. Temper tantrums that include destruction of property.

Sexy stuff

Two human characters fall in love. Dating/flirting scenes, kissing. Nonsexual, but part of Old Mr. McGregor's bottom is shown (Peter tries to insert a carrot into the exposed crack). Joke about how Peter doesn't wear pants. Peter briefly flirts with a "cute" girl bunny. A rooster talks about having "fertilized all those eggs" and tries to become a responsible father to many baby chicks. Visual joke about Peter's face appearing in the crotch opening of a pair of jeans. Joke about the meaning of the word "homewrecker." A fox goes "streaking." A joke about a jacket includes a reference to nipples. Thomas is shown in his boxers.

Language

Insult/crude words include "halfwit," "imbecile," "idiot," "stupid," "butt," "heck," and "country bumpkin."

Consumerism

Connected to lots of offline Peter Rabbit merchandise. Thomas works at the famous British department store Harrods and drives a Land Rover.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

During the animals' rowdy house party, it's implied that one character is high. In a montage of Old Mr. McGregor's poor lifestyle choices, he's shown drinking. Running joke in which, whenever anyone talks about someone who has died, characters squeeze berries and let the juice run to the ground -- a reference to gang members pouring beer on the ground to memorialize dead friends.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Peter Rabbit is a live-action/animated movie based on Beatrix Potter's classic books and starring James Corden as the voice of Peter. It doesn't have the same mild, pastel-hued feel of the stories, though: There's lots of frenetic action, including perilous chases, attacks with weapons and traps, explosions, and even death. Old Mr. McGregor dies on-screen, and Peter's parents are said to be dead (his father was eaten in a pie). There are also threats, arguments, and temper tantrums, and at one point the animals attack their human enemy with blackberries, knowing he's allergic to them (he has a reaction and must treat himself with an EpiPen). The two main human characters (Rose Byrne and Domhnall Gleeson) fall in love and kiss once. Part of Old Mr. McGregor's buttocks is shown; Peter tries to poke a carrot in the crack. A rooster talks about "fertilizing all those eggs" and then tries to be a good father to a gaggle of baby chicks. Language is mild overall but includes insult words like "stupid," "idiot," and "imbecile"; a couple of quick scenes include references to drinking and the implication that a character is high (the latter will likely go over kids' heads). The main characters make lots of iffy decisions, and everyone behaves rather badly until an apology at the end that seems a bit too little, too late. But they do learn a few lessons about listening to others and the fact that there's enough love to go around for everyone.

User Reviews

Educator Written byMomToFour February 11, 2018

Funny for All Ages! Great family fun!

It is so rare we can go into a theater with our kids aged 5 to 14 and have all the kids laughing and enjoying a movie. And hey, the parents are chuckling too? S... Continue reading
Adult Written bymaroonmom February 10, 2018

Could have been charming!

This could have been such a sweet movie. Visually it was endearing, but the story was terrible. Peter Rabbit brags about killing the human that killed (and ate)... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old February 15, 2018

REALLY?

I am really disappointed in this movie. I thought this was supposed to be for kids! I mean the farmer guy stabs Peter's dad with a pitchfork and then you s... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byCarson Bush February 10, 2018

Lovely if you’d like cringe and allergy-killings.

A dull, cringey movie that ruins the classic story. It also includes iffy-jokes that would just barley fly over kid’s heads, Plus, characters try to use an all... Continue reading

What's the story?

In PETER RABBIT, Peter (voiced by James Corden) and his family -- sisters Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki), and Cotton-Tail (Daisy Ridley) and cousin Benjamin (Colin Moody) -- are without parents thanks to mean Old Mr. McGregor (Sam Neill). So the young rabbits regularly break into his garden to steal vegetables. Then one day, Mr. McGregor dies suddenly, so all the local animals take over his house. But a distant nephew, Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson), gets word of his inheritance and, hoping to sell the farm and open a toy store in London, decides to check it out. He meets pretty, bunny-loving neighbor/artist, Bea (Rose Byrne), and is smitten. Determined not to let her know about his deep-seated anger issues, he puts on an easygoing facade -- all the while trying to get rid of the rabbits (permanently) without her knowing. Peter, in turn, wants Thomas to go away, so he plays all manner of vicious tricks on him. Eventually, the situation literally becomes explosive.

Is it any good?

Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit books were simple and charming, but this adaptation just tries too hard. It's frantically paced, but it still feels padded/stretched out with too many pop songs and too many dumb jokes. Peter Rabbit also has a surprising amount of death in it, and it gets tricky to figure out whom to root for, since almost everyone in the movie behaves pretty poorly. But Thomas gets the edge, since he's human, and Gleeson is able to bring a hint of sadness and loneliness to his role. Peter, on the other hand, has too much in common with the arrogant, yappy, hyperactive "E.B." in 2011's Hop. The filmmakers couldn't even seem to decide on one simple rule: whether humans could hear and understand the rabbits.

Peter Rabbit also attempts a kind of "meta-ness" (i.e., having characters occasionally address the camera and making wink-wink references to anthropomorphic animals, etc.) that isn't much funnier than the regular jokes. Overall, the humor isn't exactly vulgar, but it also isn't smart. And whenever the movie gets stuck, which is often, it throws in another pop song. The only time it comes close to evoking Potter's books is when it briefly digresses into what look like hand-drawn animated sequences inspired by Potter's original artwork. If only the filmmakers had realized what they were missing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the action/violence in Peter Rabbit. Were you expecting all of the chases and explosions? Did they bother you? Was it upsetting to see or hear about characters dying?

  • Which characters are role models? Why? Do they learn any lessons or display any character strengths?

  • How does this take on Peter compare with the character in the books? Which do you prefer, and why?

  • Did you notice any stereotypes in the movie? If so, is that OK?

  • What audience do you think the movie is most intended to appeal to? How can you tell?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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