Yesterday we went to Chapter Arts to see Peter Rabbit, a movie that Molly has wanted too see for a very long time. The Peter Rabbit film has certainly come under fire this year with regards to a very short allergy scene halfway through the movie.
The film follows Peter and his friends as they come to terms with a new McGregor (Thomas) in the form of Domhnall Gleeson (About Time); a city slicker with a penchant for all things perfect, neat and clean.
When Thomas moves to his deceased uncle’s home in the country, he plans to sell it and move on. But then he meets Bea (Rose Byrne, known for Insidious), a lovely and kind artist who protects the rabbits with every inch of her being.
Things go awry and Peter and Thomas become sworn enemies, which ultimately ends in disaster for all parties involved.
The film is full of slapstick humour and the cinema was full of giggles, with even a little applause at the end.
I didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did, but there was such a charm to the movie in the form of Gleeson and Byrne, it was hard not to. I particularly loved Peter and Thomas McGregor’s character development; they both changed over time and this was key to the moral of the story.
My favourite moments include the gorgeous soundtrack, clever animation and (of course) the beautiful moments of animation straight from the original books. These moments were well and truly magical.
When it comes to the allergy scene, I think I’m in the minority. I think it’s a valid scene, in more ways than one. Firstly, the McGregor’s are hell bent on killing, skinning and eating the rabbits, and we learn from the start that this is how Peter’s father died. Peter learns from this, and the death of McGregor, that death is an end to his own suffering, as well as pure revenge for his father’s suffering. I actually found the rabbit pie scene upsetting, unlike the allergy scene. Here’s why…
When Thomas begins to react to the blackberry, he immediately gets his epipen out and uses it on himself. When this happened, George turned to me and asked what was happening. LIGHT BULB. He had no idea what was going on, so this scene became a learning process. A way to understand how serious allergies are, a way to understand what needs to happen should someone have a reaction. This scene can be, and was (for us), educational, a talking and discussion point; and that’s a wonderful thing.
I also want to point out that it’s not the first film to approach this kind of scenario. Are we all forgetting the scene in Mrs Doubtfire when Robin Williams puts cayenne pepper on Pierce Brosnan’s food because he’s allergic? Are we also forgetting that slapstick includes throwing things, electrocution (think Home Alone and Peter Rabbit), getting hurt in so many ways you wince as you watch?! Why is this acceptable yet an allergy scene isn’t?! They could all cause a lot of harm, but children don’t watch these movies and necessarily copy the scenes. Instead the giggle along and ask questions, but they certainly don’t start tipping water on the front step to freeze overnight or set up blowtorches, hanging cans of paint or any other painful and crazy stunt. Why? I don’t have the answer for this. Maybe it’s because they can distinguish films from reality, or they understand how these things would most likely kill someone. So I really cannot imagine kids watching Peter Rabbit and suddenly trying to kill their friends with allergy related food. It just isn’t going to happen.
As parents we can use the allergy scene for good, positive engagement with our children. Because one thing I do know, children learn mostly from their parents, so if we aren’t going to instill goodness and kindness in them, then the fault isn’t with slapstick comedy, it’s with us.