The new computer-animated Peter Rabbit movie hit theaters February 23 and is evidently every bit as awful as it looked in the trailers. It scored only a 58% on Rotten Tomatoes, and though I have only seen the trailers, I can’t say I don’t see why.
Beatrix Potter’s stories have stood the test of time. Since the turn-of-the-century, generations of children have adored Peter Rabbit, the anthropomorphic mischievous bunny who must use his wits to get himself out of the trouble he gets himself into. The stories are wholesome and teach good lessons about staying out of trouble and whatnot, but unfortunately as has been the case with many older works lately, Peter Rabbit was forced to sell out when Hollywood got involved.
Potter herself would be appalled to see what Sony Pictures Animation has turned her work into. Her work will suffer the same fate as the Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks. Peter Rabbit and his friends will become the same irreverent characters voiced by celebrities spouting unfunny jokes. They will be part of a clichéd story that has little to nothing to do with their original stories. Adults and their children will be lured in by the classic characters only to endure at least an hour and a half of what audiences on Rotten Tomatoes have called, “chaotic, violent mayhem manically soundtracked to the day’s hits.”
The results will be the same. Children who don’t know any better will be entertained while adults and fans will be rolling their eyes and checking their watches and phones constantly to see how much time has passed. When the theater lets them out, kids will be satisfied for a while until like the adults, they forget what they saw and move on to the next shallow kids’ flick. Sequels may or may not be made, and if they are, they will be even worse than the first. The franchise will make money, but ultimately, will be used as nothing but comedy fodder for comedians and as case-studies of adaptations gone wrong.
For some reason, Hollywood seems to think that younger audiences will not accept an older work unless it’s modified to be “cool.” They seem to forget the value of being genuine and true to who you are. They ignore the value in the original work for what they think will make more money. Until they make a change, movies like “Peter Rabbit” will be doomed to be panned and creators and audiences alike will continue to languish from mediocrity.