Peter Rabbit, B-
Rated PG, 105 minutes
Don't be a silly rabbit, hop on over to see the charming new animated-live action comedy "Peter Rabbit," based very loosely on the classic Beatrix Potter tales. Both redundant and predictable, it's peppered with enough to keep the young ones engaged for a bit.
Peter Rabbit (James Corden) and his three sisters -- Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki) and Cotton-Tail (Daisy Ridley) -- enjoy spending their days in Mr. McGregor's (Sam Neill) vegetable garden as they live with McGregor's kindly neighbor Bea (Rose Byrne). When McGregor's great nephew Thomas (Domnhall Gleeson) suddenly moves in, he's less than thrilled to discover a family of rabbits in his new home. A battle of wills soon breaks out as the new owner hatches scheme after scheme to get rid of Peter -- a resourceful rabbit who proves to be a worthy and wily opponent.
The appealing, often lively "Peter Rabbit" isn't perfect and will make staunch literary purists grumble some, but it's filled with a nice, silly energy that should please the younger ones in the family the most. Talk-show host Corden is inspired casting as the lead character, and here he comes across as more of a slick, Bugs Bunny-type who has an infatuation with finding trouble; it's occasionally mean-spirited, even an ultra-sweet climax and ending that may have most adults rolling their eyes.
On that note, you'll see the romance between Thomas and Bea coming from a mile away, even if it takes Peter and his friends a bit to pick up on it. Especially in its middle act, there isn't much to it: it's a string of silly gags and hijinks that strays from its original source material considerably, though Gluck keeps intact some elements of Potter's stories, such as character names and clothing (namely, the jackets the rabbits wear).
Like the recent "Paddington" (which features Gleeson's dad, Brendan), another classic animated-live action mix, "Peter Rabbit" is distinctly British, but it still strives for a sweet, sentimental feel, which works most of the time. Pleasant, enjoyable and slightly bland, "Peter Rabbit" is a perfectly suitable tale for the entirely family. If the kids want a cute, cuddly rabbit after seeing the film, good luck in telling them no.