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When co-writer/director Will Gluck’s Peter Rabbit burst onto the scene in 2018, no one really knew what to expect – but the formula for success was firmly set for any potential sequel that would follow thanks to the film having just enough good-hearted laughs and snarky asides to please parents and children alike. That path is what’s led us to Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, a sequel that almost three years later delivers the same level of adventure and commentary that those who enjoyed James Corden’s first outing will expect.
Playing the sequel angle to the hilt, Peter Rabbit 2 sees Peter (James Corden) and his family encountering two huge changes to their lifestyle. With the newly married Bea (Rose Byrne) and Tom (Domnhall Gleeson) finding fame and fortune thanks to a slick publisher (David Oyelowo) who wants to take Bea’s books to the next level, our hero rabbit has a bit of an identity crisis. Finding himself labeled as “the bad seed,” but identifying as a hero at heart, it isn’t long before professional thief and fellow rabbit, Barnabas (Lennie James), comes in to further confuse Peter about which path he’s really on.
Peter Rabbit 2 has to be one of the most consistent kids movie sequels in some time.
Much like any good sequel is supposed to do, Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway amps up the stakes for animals and humans alike in the story. It’s that garden variety expectation that sometimes leads a film such as this astray, as bigger and more vibrant efforts can sometimes push aside the charms that make a film like the first Peter Rabbit a success in the first place. Well, fear not, as Peter Rabbit 2 is one of the most consistent sequels to a kids movie you’ve seen.
Nothing has changed about the fundamentals that made the film’s characters likable in the first place. Domnhall Gleeson’s Tom may have chilled out since his rabbit fighting days, but he’s still as fussy and focused as he was when we first met him. And in that same respect, Peter Rabbit gets to still cause chaos when the situation calls for it, but also goes through some very interesting paces when weighing his role as a hero or a villain.
There’s a little too much emphasis on the meta-humor of Peter Rabbit 2, but it doesn’t sink the ship.
For all of the growth that Peter Rabbit 2 allows its characters, the narrative still sticks to a tried and true formula of storybook mayhem and meta-humorous comedy. Should you be showing up looking for more of the former, you’ll get plenty of that sort of action, especially in the heist comedy plotline that plays out amongst both old and new friends of Peter’s. But it’s that latter factor that provides one of the only snags in the film’s humor, as this second time around leans a bit harder on the sly jokes designed to please parents.Plenty of jabs from the realms of subtle and slapstick are to be had in Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway’s plot, and that’s where some of the problems come into play.
As David Oyelowo’s Nigel Basil-James subtly alters Bea’s quaint storybooks into more modern and marketable tales ripe for movie rights, the message couldn’t be clearer about where films such as those based loosely on the works of Beatrix Potter can go wrong. This is where Rose Byrne really gets to shine, as her performance of an artist at the crossroads would make for a fine dramatic counterbalance. It mostly works, but there are some very pointed jokes made at the expense of this storyline that rob it of the desired impact.
Peter Rabbit 2 may not win many new fans, but it’ll keep those already invested ready for more.
The primary concern for a movie like Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway is more than likely whether or not a parent can take their children to see it without being bored out of their minds. Answering that question will depend on how much the viewer enjoyed Peter Rabbit, as its sequel is firmly in line with the same sort of shenanigans that were presented the first time around. The big difference is there’s a sizable increase in snark, as well as heaping dose of adventure added into the mix.
Peter Rabbit 2 probably won’t win any new fans, but that never really feels like the point. While it’s always great to see a sequel to any film make a sizable improvement on the previous entry, it’s also nice just to see a proper continuation. If you happen to be someone who enjoyed Peter Rabbit, you be pleasantly surprised to have just as much fun with the garden of excitement that Peter Rabbit 2 has harvested for the big screen.