If you've been looking forward to the cinemas today, I would like to apologise in advance for my next sentence. When you return to your favourite picture palace, you'll be greeted by a giant poster of James Corden's smarmy bunny Peter Rabbit.
To lovers of Beatrix Potter's classic books, Peter Rabbit 2 may be the least welcome comeback since the pandemic's second wave. Thankfully, this much-delayed family adventure finds Peter a much-changed bunny.
"Is my voice annoying?" asks our now surprisingly introspective hero.
"It's a bit polarising, but I like it," says Lennie James's new rabbit Barnabas.
And it's not only the rabbit who seems to have learned a lesson. Returning director Will Gluck has realised that a more toned-down hero makes for a superior and far less "polarising" sequel.
When his surrogate mum Bea (Rose Byrne) marries his former nemesis Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson), best rabbit Peter resists the urge to cause mayhem at the wedding. But his resentment grows when his efforts to change his ways go unnoticed by Bea's flash new publisher Nigel (David Oyelowo).
At Nigel's persuasion, Bea agrees to make Peter a more villainous character in her next book. Rabbit sisters Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail (voiced by Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki and Aimee Horne) will be the heroines and Peter the "bad seed".
So a miffed Peter runs away to London where he falls in with a gang of animal hoodlums who are planning "the greatest farmers' market heist in history".
The crime plot serves up the requisite slapstick for kids but this time it is laced with sharp lines (a Scouse rat is a hoot) and anarchic humour about classic stories ruined by commercial interests.
Now we can root for the hairy hero as he struggles to put his selfish ways behind him. His voice, though, is definitely still annoying.
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