Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

2021, PG, 85 min. Directed by Will Gluck. Voices by James Corden, Lennie James, Elizabeth Debicki, Margot Robbie, Aimee Horne, Jack Andrew, Colin Moody. Starring Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, David Oyelowo.

REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., June 18, 2021

The quaint but sometimes perilous world inhabited by Peter Rabbit and fellow anthropomorphized furry and feathered creatures in Beatrix Potter’s suite of children’s tales is a storybook England of vegetable gardens and country lanes. By contemporary standards, it’s a wistful setting of simple pleasures, one lovingly captured on the written and illustrated page by its beloved author in 23 books with titles like The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies. So why would anyone think that modernizing Potter’s mischievous leveret in this live-action movie adaptation populated with CGI critters faithfully outfitted in waistcoats and bonnets is anything but a harebrained idea? And for a second time at that? Once you tamper with the precious stuff that has endeared generations of young readers simply because you distrust the attention spans of today’s youngsters, what’s left over is a rabbit stew barely seasoned with warmed-over scraps of waggish whimsy.

This misbegotten sequel to 2018’s equally questionable Peter Rabbit begins on a particularly confusing note for any traditionalist familiar with the writer’s life and work. As the first scene opens, the never-married Miss Potter (Byrne), casually nicknamed “Bea” here, is saying “I do” to Mr. McGregor (an elastic-limbed Gleason), great-nephew of one of Potter's fictional creations and Peter’s archenemy, in a ceremony attended by Peter and other members of Potter’s literary menagerie. (Never mind that her books reference the original McGregor's presumable murder of Peter’s father.) As he watches the ceremony, an Oedipally incensed Peter starts to daydream about the animals’ violent disruption of the nuptials. The bloodless savagery of this attack fantasy is not only disturbing but immediately off-putting for anyone deluded enough to believe this updated misadventure might still offer a soupçon of Potteresque charm.

From there, the screenplay by director Gluck and Patrick Burleigh takes two paths. In the first, a slick big-time publisher (Oyelowo) attempts to convince Bea to reimagine the hares popularized in her self-published debut, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, with an urban edge, nudging her towards hardening the titular character into a bad-boy bunny, with a marketing eye towards lucrative action-figure and cereal-box merchandizing. In the second, a runaway Peter, disheartened at the prospect of becoming the villain of the piece, joins a Dickensian gang of mammalian food thieves led by a grizzled old buck named Barnabas in nearby Gloucester. The dual storylines ultimately lead to a frantic finale cribbed from a James Bond movie, with Bea behind the wheel of a convertible sportscar in a spectacular animal rescue effort that would shame PETA. Like the jelly-bean sugar high in one of the more manic running gags, it’s all terribly exhausting in the way most movies tailored to the under-10 crowd can be.

While a handful of gags hit their marks (one of the best: a public trash and recycling bin whose holes are tailor-made for a futile game of Whack-a-Rabbit during a chase sequence), the movie devotes much of its humor in self-referential justification of itself. In fact, it winks so incessantly at the audience, particularly in the storyline in which Bea is tempted to update Peter’s tale with a more contemporary vibe (rabbits in outer space!), that at some point the inside jokes start to sound like an apology from the filmmakers for stooping to bastardize a children’s classic. If Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway tells us anything, it’s that meta ain’t always betta.

Showtimes

AMC Dine-In Tech Ridge 10

12625 N. I-35, 512/640-1533, www.amctheatres.com

Tue., June 22

CC/DVS 8:20

Wed., June 23

CC/DVS 8:20

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 Capital of Texas Hwy. S., 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Tue., June 22

CC/DVS 1:00, 3:25, 5:50

Wed., June 23

CC/DVS 1:00, 3:25, 5:50

Thu., June 24

CC/DVS 3:10, 5:35, 7:20

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Tue., June 22

digital 12:30, 1:50, 3:05, 4:30, 5:50, 7:10, 8:30, 9:50

Wed., June 23

digital 10:00am, 11:10am, 12:30, 1:50, 3:05, 4:30, 5:50, 7:10, 8:30, 9:50

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Tue., June 22

digital 12:15, 2:45, 5:15, 7:50

Wed., June 23

digital 12:15, 2:45, 5:15, 7:50

Tue., June 22

digital 4:20, 6:55

Wed., June 23

digital 4:20, 6:55

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Tue., June 22

digital 1:15, 4:00, 6:45

Wed., June 23

digital 1:15, 4:00, 6:45

Thu., June 24

digital 1:15, 4:00, 6:45

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Tue., June 22

digital 2:20, 5:20, 8:55

Wed., June 23

digital 2:20, 5:20, 8:55

Cinemark Stone Hill Town Center

18820 Hilltop Commercial Dr., 512/251-0938, www.cinemark.com

Tue., June 22

digital 4:00, 6:45

Wed., June 23

digital 4:00, 6:45

Wed., June 23

2:20, 4:30, 6:40

Thu., June 24

2:20, 4:30

City Lights Theatre

420 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, 512/868-9922

Tue., June 22

1:30, 4:15, 6:45

Wed., June 23

1:30, 4:15, 6:45

Evo Cinemas Belterra

166 Hargraves Ste. A-100, 512/457-0700, www.evocinemas.com/drippingsprings

Tue., June 22

12:15, 12:45, 1:30, 2:45, 3:30, 4:15, 5:30, 6:15, 7:00

Wed., June 23

11:00am, 12:15, 12:45, 1:30, 2:45, 3:30, 4:15, 5:30, 7:00

Thu., June 24

12:15, 12:45, 1:30, 2:45, 3:30, 4:15, 5:30, 6:15

EVO Entertainment

3200 Kyle Crossing, Kyle, 512/523-9009, www.evo-entertainment.com

Tue., June 22

9:45am, 10:45am, 12:00, 1:00, 2:15, 3:15, 4:30, 6:00, 7:00

Wed., June 23

10:45am, 12:00, 12:45, 1:00, 2:15, 3:15, 4:30, 6:00, 7:00

Thu., June 24

11:00am, 11:55am, 1:15, 2:10, 3:30, 4:25, 6:00

Film Alley Bastrop

1600 Chestnut St, Bastrop, 512/321-0123, bastrop.filmalley.net/

Tue., June 22

1:35, 4:15, 7:00

Wed., June 23

1:35, 4:15, 7:00

Thu., June 24

1:35, 4:25, 7:10

Galaxy Highland 10

6700 Middle Fiskville, 512/467-7305, www.galaxytheatres.com

No one under 18 will be allowed in the theatre on Friday or Saturday after 7pm without an adult.

Tue., June 22

12:00, 2:25
CC 12:10, 2:35, 5:00, 7:30

Wed., June 23

CC 12:00

Thu., June 24

12:00, 2:25
CC 12:10, 2:35, 5:00

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Tue., June 22

CC 1:10, 1:40, 3:40, 4:15, 6:30, 6:50, 9:30
CC/DVS 1:10, 1:40, 3:40, 4:15, 6:30, 6:50, 9:30

Wed., June 23

CC 1:10, 1:40, 3:40, 4:15, 6:30, 6:50, 9:30
CC/DVS 1:10, 1:40, 3:40, 4:15, 6:30, 6:50, 9:30

Thu., June 24

CC 1:10, 1:40, 3:40, 4:15, 6:50, 9:30
CC/DVS 1:10, 1:40, 3:40, 4:15, 6:50, 9:30

Hometown Cinemas

120 MLK Jr. Industrial Blvd. W, Lockhart, 512/398-4100, www.hometowncinemas.com

Tue., June 22

11:50am, 2:15, 4:40, 7:15, 9:40

Wed., June 23

11:50am, 2:15, 4:40, 9:40

Thu., June 24

11:50am, 2:15, 4:40, 7:15, 9:40

AMC Lakeline 9

11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., Cedar Park, 512/335-4793

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Tue., June 22

CC/DVS 7:20

Wed., June 23

CC/DVS 7:20

Moviehouse & Eatery

8300 FM 620 N., Bldg. B, 512/501-3520, www.themoviehouse.com/trails/

Tue., June 22

12:30, 3:15, 6:00

Wed., June 23

12:30, 3:15, 6:00

Thu., June 24

12:30, 3:15, 6:00

Moviehouse & Eatery - Lantana Place

7415 Southwest Pkwy., Bldg. 7, 512/572-0770, www.themoviehouse.com/lantana/

Tue., June 22

12:00, 3:00, 6:00

Wed., June 23

12:00, 3:00, 6:00

Thu., June 24

12:00, 3:00, 6:00

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READ MORE
More Will Gluck Films
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Beatrix Potter's amiable bunny gets a CGI makeover.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, Will Gluck, Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, David Oyelowo

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