Hoppy hit or flopsy? BRIAN VINER reviews Peter Rabbit 2 – The Runaway

Will Peter’s return be a hoppy hit… or a flopsy? BRIAN VINER reviews Peter Rabbit 2 – The Runaway

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (U)

Verdict: Liberty-taking sequel

Rating:

 

My New York Year (15)

Verdict: Low-key literary charmer

Rating:

Pippi, my companion at the Odeon Hereford, chuckled happily throughout Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway on Monday afternoon.

Her pleasure made me smile. During one sustained burst of high-pitched giggling, I even laughed. For the record, Pippi is ten.

For grown-ups attached in any way to the charming world Beatrix Potter created around the turn of the last century, that might be the answer. Take the kids and enjoy their enjoyment. It will stop you wincing.

Will Gluck, the New Yorker who directed and co-wrote this sequel (as he did the 2018 original), has at least ironed out the clunky Americanisms this time. There’s no ice-cream ‘truck’ trundling through the Lake District.

Pippi, my companion at the Odeon Hereford, chuckled happily throughout Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway on Monday afternoon. Her pleasure made me smile. During one sustained burst of high-pitched giggling, I even laughed. For the record, Pippi is ten

But otherwise, anyone who can claim Jemima Puddleduck and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle as part of their childhood may as well brace themselves for 93 minutes of liberty-taking.

As in the first film, Bea (Rose Byrne) is loosely modelled on Potter herself.

She’s a writer and illustrator of children’s books, newly married to Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson), who is struggling to accept her menagerie as part of his extended household, and has a particular problem with mischievous but misunderstood Peter (voiced as before by James Corden).

From there, two narrative lines develop in slightly wonky parallel. Gluck, rather endearingly keen to let us know that he’s aware of Potter’s 1902 story The Tailor Of Gloucester, sweeps the action to Gloucester (where, sure enough, there’s an old fellow who deals in bespoke menswear).

As in the first film, Bea (Rose Byrne) is loosely modelled on Potter herself. She’s a writer and illustrator of children’s books, newly married to Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson), who is struggling to accept her menagerie as part of his extended household

There, Peter gets mixed up in a heist at a farmers’ market masterminded by a rascally old bunny called Barnabas (voiced by Lennie James). His sidekick, incidentally, is a shifty rat with a Scouse accent.

Liverpool isn’t quite my native city but I grew up less than 20 miles away and feel fully subscribed to that Liverpudlian persecution complex. A rat indeed.

Anyway, while all this is going on, a pushy publisher called Nigel (David Oyelowo) has signed Bea with the promise of international stardom but wants to make more of her stories, sending her characters into space and turning Peter into an outright villain.

It’s hard to know whether Gluck is poking fun at himself here for already doing to Potter’s lovely tales pretty much what Nigel wants to do to Bea’s.

Peter gets mixed up in a heist at a farmers’ market masterminded by a rascally old bunny called Barnabas (voiced by Lennie James). His sidekick, incidentally, is a shifty rat with a Scouse accent

If so, then hats off; that’s 24-carrot irony. If not, then shame on him for not noticing.

And shame on him anyway, for a gag in which Peter’s sister Flopsy (Margot Robbie), to distance herself from Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki), declares her new name to be Lavatory. Not even Pippi laughed at that one.

A further irony this week is that the strident, trying-too-hard comedy relates to Beatrix Potter, while the real charmer relates to a somewhat edgier author, JD Salinger.

My New York Year is a low-key delight, a kind of gentle literary version of The Devil Wears Prada (2006).

Margaret Qualley (Andie MacDowell’s daughter, by the way) gives a sweetly bewitching performance as Joanna Rakoff, an aspiring young writer who lands a junior job at the venerable Manhattan literary agency that once handled the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Agatha Christie.

There, she is given the humdrum task of replying to all the fan mail sent care of the agency to ‘Jerry’ Salinger, their most famous, and famously reclusive, living client.

My New York Year is a low-key delight, a kind of gentle literary version of The Devil Wears Prada. Margaret Qualley (pictured) gives a sweetly bewitching performance as Joanna Rakoff, an aspiring young writer who lands a junior job at the venerable Manhattan literary agency

All she is required to do is send out generic notes explaining that Salinger never responds to unsolicited letters, but gradually she gets sucked into the (partly dramatised) stories of people desperate to engage with the author of The Catcher In The Rye.

Sigourney Weaver is perfectly cast as Joanna’s imperious boss, a toned-down version of Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada.

In fact, maybe only Streep herself, or possibly Tilda Swinton, could have played this part as nicely.

Sigourney Weaver is perfectly cast as Joanna’s imperious boss, a toned-down version of Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada

It’s Qualley, though, who also made the absolute most of her role as Charles Manson’s disciple ‘Pussycat’ in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time . . . In Hollywood, who gives this film its quiet luminosity.

It’s a true story, too, chronicled by Rakoff in her 2014 memoir, from which writer-director Philippe Falardeau has crafted the perfect antidote to all those bang-crash-wallop movies that assault the senses, pleasing though it is to see a few of the current lot advertised outside cinemas again.

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway is in cinemas now. My New York Year is in cinemas and on digital platforms from tomorrow.

The Woman In The Window (15)

Verdict: Hitchcock rip-off

Rating:

 

Army Of The Dead (18)

Verdict: Zombie-heist extravaganza

Rating:

 

Whether Netflix intended their two latest releases to evoke the lockdown experience, who knows. But both do, in their different ways.

In The Woman In The Window, Amy Adams plays Anna, an agoraphobic child psychologist who, cooped up in her New York brownstone all day long, begins to spy on the folk opposite.

They have just moved in with a lorry-load of emotional baggage.

In The Woman In The Window, Amy Adams plays Anna, an agoraphobic child psychologist who, cooped up in her New York brownstone all day long, begins to spy on the folk opposite

Anna has baggage too, mostly in the form of a personal tragedy.

Then she thinks she sees a murder framed by one of the conveniently well-lit windows across the way, this being the only part of Manhattan where people otherwise obsessed with privacy never bother to pull the blinds.

The cops arrive, but reckon she might be a nut job. We know better, or do we?

British director Joe Wright (Atonement, Darkest Hour) does his best to crank up the suspense, while screenwriter Tracy Letts (who also a cameo as a psychotherapist), makes no effort to conceal the debt he owes to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 classic Rear Window.

Moreover, a top-notch cast also includes Julianne Moore and Gary Oldman.

But this is a second-rate psychological thriller; tricksy, overwrought and in parts, most fatally of all, downright laughable.

In Army Of The Dead, writer-director Zack Snyder, never known for his restraint, pulls out the stops even more extravagantly than usual with a zombie-heist spectacular with Dave Bautista

So is Army Of The Dead, but at least it’s meant to be, with lines such as: ‘It’s not every man who saves the Secretary of Defence from a horde of flesh-eating monsters.’

Writer-director Zack Snyder, never known for his restraint, pulls out the stops even more extravagantly than usual with a zombie-heist spectacular in which Dave Bautista plays the leader of a carefully-chosen gang, their brief being to liberate $50m from a vault deep under Las Vegas.

That would be tricky even if Vegas weren’t now the city of the undead, with thousands of zombies locked down, and those who come into contact with them forced into horrible quarantine camps.

Honestly, it’ll make you think we’ve had it pretty easy.

Both films are available now on Netflix

Source: Read Full Article