Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

Review by Rich Cline | 2.5/5

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway
dir Will Gluck
scr Will Gluck, Patrick Burleigh
prd Will Gluck, Zareh Nalbandian
with Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, David Oyelowo, Chika Yasumura
voices James Corden, Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, Lennie James, Sia, Colin Moody, Hayley Atwell, Damon Herriman, Ewen Leslie
release UK 17.May.21,
US 18.Jun.21
20/UK Columbia 1h33

corden robbie oyelowo
See also:
Peter Rabbit (2018)

Is it streaming?

gleeson, byrne, mopsy, cottontail and flopsy
There's a generic quality to this sequel, never quite catching the edginess that elevated the first movie while indulging in bigger-and-better cliches even as they poke fun at them. The result is a strange mix of cute characters and mildly amusing nuttiness, but too far few punchlines hit the target. It's watchable mainly because Domhnall Gleeson is so fearless with physical comedy. And of course the bunnies are adorable.
Now that Bea and Thomas (Byrne and Gleeson) are married and living in harmony with Peter (Corden) and his entourage of critters, Bea is getting noticed for her storybook about their farm. Big city publisher Basil (Oyelowo) makes a lavish offer, encouraging Bea to tell more commercial tales. But labelling Peter as the bad seed strikes a nerve, so he runs away, falling in with petty thief rabbit Barnabas (James) and his gang, then bringing in his pals for an elaborate farmer's market heist. Basically everyone is having an identity crisis at the same time.
The generally spiralling mayhem is enjoyably low-key, refusing to either go over-the-top or generate any real suspense. So each set-piece plays out as carefully staged cause-and-effect slapstick. None of this is remotely funny, although perhaps young children will giggle at the silliest gags. And any dramatic tension between characters is played with so much goofiness that it never quite grabs hold, leaving the requisite sudsy climactic sentiment feeling a bit flat.

Gleeson throws himself in with a sense of childish innocence that's disarmingly likeable, even if most sequences merely hurl him into digital faux violence. His scenes with Byrne have some underlying wit, although she's slightly sidelined this time around. And Oyelowo gleefully piles on the charm as the obvious villain of the piece. Meanwhile, the animals are cuddly and sharply animated to look remarkably realistic. The voice work is chirpy and deliberately ridiculous.

There are several moral lessons to convey along the way, all of which are painfully obvious and yet still spelled out unambiguously at the end, perhaps for viewers who drifted off during some of the duller stretches. The idea that families come in all shapes and sizes is a sweet one, as is the point that abandoning integrity and trust will always come back to haunt you. But perhaps the strongest reminder is that we all make mistakes from time to time, and it's important for us to learn from them. And to forgive others when they fall down.

cert u themes, violence 25.May.21

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