CHARMING “PETER RABBIT” HAPPY MISCHIEF; “BELLEVUE” ON TV

 

CHARMING “PETER RABBIT” HAPPY MISCHIEF; “BELLEVUE” ON TV

A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley

PETER RABBIT (Rated PG) The children’s book “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” written and illustrated by British author Beatrix Potter, is more than a century old but it remains a fixture in popular culture as terrific bedtime reading.

In a contemporary world, “Peter Rabbit,” the movie that combines animation with live action, is turned into an irreverent comedy that relies more on current sensibilities for a wider audience than the evident whimsy of the source material.

British comedian James Corden, known stateside as a late night TV host, provides the voice of the mischievous Peter Rabbit, infusing his adorable small mammal with a cuteness factor that could easily result in a market for toy versions.

Peter, the impish rogue in a blue coat, and his sisters, Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki), and Cotton-tail (Daisy Ridley), are now orphaned and missing the guidance of their father who met a terrible fate in the garden of Old Mr. McGregor (Sam Neill).

The vegetable garden in the English countryside is a tempting place, and Peter and his sisters along with cousin Benjamin Bunny (Colin Moody), run wild in a looting spree, only to be nearly captured by the grumpy old man.

Not to be dissuaded from trying to retrieve his lost jacket, Peter ends up in a scuffle with McGregor that looks almost certain to end badly for the fuzzy creature until the old man drops dead of a heart attack.

Meanwhile, in London, McGregor’s great-nephew Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson), the fussy supervisor of the toys section at the upscale Harrod’s department store, gets passed over for a deserved promotion and then has a meltdown in the store that gets him fired.

When news comes that he has inherited McGregor Manor, Thomas is less than thrilled to leave London but soon realizes he can sell the place and use the proceeds to open a competing retail outlet near his old place of employment.

Peter and his family and an assortment of local farm animals take over McGregor’s mansion and throw a wild party that causes the elegant home to look it was hit by a tornado or an unruly fraternity party.

When Thomas arrives, he tries to restore order and a whole new war between a McGregor and the rabbit clan is ignited, with Peter the main adversary taunting the new owner. Caught in the middle is neighbor Bea (Rose Byrne), who loves the rabbits but falls for Thomas.

“Peter Rabbit” has plenty of mayhem from adorable woodland creatures to appeal to younger viewers, while there is enough insolent humor to please an older audience that hopes to enjoy tagging along with their children.

 

BELLEVUE” ON WGN AMERICA By Tim Riley

It appears that we are importing more than beer and hockey players from Canada. The Great White North may be seeping into our popular culture, and it’s not limited, thankfully, to Justin Bieber. Original Canadian television programs are now in the mix.

WGN America’s new series “Bellevue” is set in a small Canadian mining town where plenty of weird and bizarre things are happening and local detective Annie Ryder (Anna Paquin) becomes deeply involved in a criminal investigation that rattles the community.

First of all, Annie is reckless, driven and haunted by childhood memories 20 years later of her policeman father who committed suicide after he failed to solve the murder of a teenage girl. We first see Annie almost going over the edge in trying to take down a drug dealer.

The limited run of “Bellevue” is all about untangling the mystery of the disappearance of a transgender teen, Jesse Sweetland (Sadie O’Neil), the star player on the local hockey team described by police chief Peter Welland (Shawn Doyle) as “contemplating his gender identity.”

Jesse’s hockey coach Tom Edmonds (Vincent Leclerc) envisions his player is destined for a brilliant NHL career that could be derailed because of his cross-dressing. The trouble with the coach is that his hair-trigger temper and verbal abuse of players raises plenty of questions.

As the series focuses greatly upon the complicated life of the detective, Annie struggles with flashback memories which cause her to worry about the care of her young daughter Daisy and the turbulent relationship with her ex-husband Eddie (Allen Leech).

Headstrong and determined, Annie also clashes with Chief Welland during the unfolding investigation, frequently ignoring his entreaties for her not to be so impulsive in searching for a mysterious figure that leaves behind riddles that only Annie is able to solve.

Atmosphere and mood play a big part in the drama of “Bellevue,” in which the town itself has the feeling of impending doom. The ambitious mayor is more concerned about luring a brewery to set up shop and bring jobs than to get to the bottom of a crime that rocked the city.

There are plenty of twists and turns in the disturbing plot, and though the flawed Annie may not be the most likable character, there is no doubt that Anna Paquin brings interest to her role in “Bellevue.”