Sunday, February 25, 2018

Peter Rabbit Adoption Movie Review

Peter, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Benjamin are small rabbits who are loved by Bea, a local woman who treats them as her children. They frequently invade Mr. McGregor’s garden. He hates them – and hopes to kill them. He does catch Peter, but dies of a heart attack before he can kill Peter. The McGregor estate is inherited by Thomas, who soon takes up his relative’s oppositional attitude towards the rabbits. Worse, Thomas and Bea start to fall in love; Peter is used to fighting the McGregors for vegetables, but now he fears losing his place in Bea’s life.


The Adoption Connection

Peter’s mother died, and his father was killed and eaten by Mr. McGregor. Peter keeps his dad’s jacket as a memento – and it’s in the course of reclaiming his dad’s jacket that Peter is captured by Mr. McGregor.

Peter’s triplet sisters struggle to find their own identity.

Bea has come to develop a parental relationship with Peter and his siblings. Peter feels that that relationship is threatened when Bea starts to fall in love with Peter’s new enemy Thomas – and in fact, Bea does put Peter outside at one point, to discipline him for unintentionally damaging one of her paintings.

Eventually, Bea, Thomas, Peter and his siblings do appear to form a family unit.

Peter understands that he has unresolved grief regarding the loss of his parents, and sees that that grief makes him more sensitive to the thought of losing his place in Bea’s life.

Thomas, the main antagonist, was raised in a group home after his parents died. He is playing a crosswords game, and the words he unintentionally makes are “alone,” “numb,” “abandon,” and “mommy.”

Strong Points

Peter has a close relationship with his siblings and cousin. Bea has noticed that the rabbits are without parents, and so she has taken care of them.

Peter does develop surprisingly good insight into how the loss of his parents continues to impact him.

Mr. McGregor is cruel, and tells Peter, “I’m gonna put you in a pie, like I did your dad.”

Peter remembers seeing his father killed by the farmer.

Peter tells his siblings, “Dad and mom are still in our hearts,” but then turns to his cousin Benjamin and says, “Less in yours; you’re just a cousin by marriage.” In a film that depends so much on Peter’s acceptance into Bea’s family, it’s a pretty insensitive line.

Peter seems to revel in a character’s sudden death, and seems unbothered when he seems to have killed a second person.

Thomas tries to drown Benjamin.

Peter and his friends try to exploit Thomas’ food allergies, and nearly kill him.

Bea misjudges Peter, and sends him away from her, out into the rain. This rejection could be very troubling for kids who fear being rejected from yet another home.

Thomas tries to kill Peter – and in fact, intends to use dynamite to blow up the rabbits’ burrow. When Bea discovers that Thomas had intended to do this, she breaks up with him. And then Peter starts to feel guilty – because it was Peter who had detonated the dynamite, to prove that Thomas was intending to use it. Peter convinces Thomas to come back, and Thomas, Bea, and the rabbits form a family. I’m concerned though. A new adult came into Peter’s life, intended to abuse (and kill) him, and yet Peter feels remorse and responsibility for the adult’s actions – and the film portrays Peter’s remorse as good. Kids who have been abused do sometimes feel responsible for the abuse they suffered, and they need to know that it wasn’t their fault. This film could confuse that issue. It’s also concerning that the film’s “happy ending” is that the abusive, violent Thomas does become the father figure of Peter’s family because Peter took responsibility for Thomas’ actions. It is helpful for kids who’ve experienced loss to open their hearts and to be able to make room for new people – but not dangerous, murderous people.


Peter Rabbit has some elements that suggest the potential to be quite helpful to foster and adoptive families – Peter has experienced parental loss, has a new family, understands how his unresolved loss impacts him, and sticks closely to his siblings. However, there are some trigger potentials – scenes of violence, a cruel retelling of the death of Peter’s father, Peter’s fears of losing his relationship with his new mother figure, and Bea’s misjudgment and seeming rejection of Peter could all be hard for some viewers. I’m most concerned, though, by the fact that the film’s happy ending depends on Peter taking some responsibility for the violence he experiences from an adult in his life – and that the happy ending features that violent (and even murderous) adult becoming Peter’s father. I’d recommend skipping this one for young children. Kids 13 and up would probably be able to get past the film’s challenges, but kids that old might not be interested in a film about Peter Rabbit.

Questions for Discussion

Why was Peter scared of Bea falling in love with Thomas? Do you think Bea would ever stop loving Peter?

How did Peter feel when Bea sent him outside? Was she wrong to do it? What could she have done differently?

Peter’s jacket is important to him because it used to belong to his dad. What are your most treasured belongings?

Whose fault was it that Thomas tried to use dynamite to blow up Peter’s home? What would you tell Peter if he said that it was his own fault?

What are your favorite vegetables?

Other Ideas

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