Long floppy ears. Wide eyes. A twitching nose and pompom-like tail. Rabbits, or bunnies – whatever you like to call these creatures related to rodents – have delighted youngsters across the ages. No wonder they figure so prominently in children’s stories, whether the plot unfolds in books or the cinema. And sometimes these seemingly adorable creatures hop right from the page to the screen, as with Beatrix Potter’s enduring creation Peter Rabbit.
To mark the return of the lovable rogue in Sony Pictures’ Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (released last month in Canada), here are some entertaining onscreen adventures featuring rabbits both rascally and remarkable.
Age range: 3 to 6
Title: Max & Ruby
Where to watch: Netflix
Elevator pitch for parents: A show about siblings getting along may inspire your kids to do the same.
Elevator pitch for the kids: Playtime with a bunny brother-sister duo.
This animated series, centred around two bunny siblings, is based on the works of acclaimed children’s author Rosemary Wells. Max is a boisterous three-year-old, itching to get on with whatever task he’s involved in, often not thinking about the consequences of his actions. Seven-year-old Ruby is his patient older sister who always has the bigger picture in mind, but can be obnoxious at times.
Focusing the relationship between the siblings and their friends, each episode of the series is under 10 minutes long and offers up pithy life lessons such as, “More does not mean better.” There are evidently no adults in the fictional town of Eastbunny Hop, suggesting that kids can make many decisions on their own.
Age range: 7 upwards
Title: Peter Rabbit
Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, Netflix
Elevator pitch for parents: If they watch the movie, they might read the original books.
Elevator pitch for the kids: These rabbits have a wild adventure while foraging for food.
Based on the works of British author Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit is set in England’s famous Lake District, where Potter grew up. This 2018 film, which combines live action and CGI, tells the story of the rambunctious Peter Rabbit (James Corden), his cousin Benjamin Bunny (Colin Moody), and triplet sisters Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki) and Cottontail (Daisy Ridley).
When human Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) moves into McGregor Manor, which had been a haven for Peter and his furry friends, a war of sorts begins. The stakes rise even more when next-door neighbour Bea (Rose Byrne) becomes the object of Thomas’ affection, much to Peter’s chagrin. Adults who grew up with Potter’s charming stories and illustrations aren’t likely to be impressed (and even less so with Corden voicing the title role), but children will likely enjoy Peter Rabbit’s shenanigans.
Age range: 9 upwards
Title: Remarkable Rabbits
Where to watch: CBC Gem
Elevator pitch for parents: It’s a nature documentary by David Suzuki.
Elevator pitch for kids: Learn some fun facts about real-life rabbits.
What can be more wholesome than a David Suzuki nature documentary? In this episode of The Nature of Things, find out more about the “tenacious family of creatures so adorable that it rarely gets the respect it deserves.”
This doc takes on the common misconception that bunnies are hopping around everywhere and reproducing in great numbers – although there are more than 60 different kinds of wild rabbits and hares, it turns out that many species are in danger of being eradicated. It also illustrates how rabbits are an animal that’s often overlooked, and how they have adapted to their changing environment over the years.
Age range: 13 upwards
Where to watch: Disney+
Elevator pitch for parents: It’s a nuanced – and funny – film addressing the idea of inclusion.
Elevator pitch for the kids: A rabbit and fox team up to solve a crime wave!
This is one of those uncommon animated films that both parents and children can enjoy. Younger viewers will be charmed by this animal version of the real world, where bright-eyed and bushy-tailed rabbit Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) is eager to make her mark as a rookie cop. Unfortunately, she’s not taken seriously at work and is assigned parking duty by Chief Bogo (Idris Elba).
But Judy manages to finagle her way into investigating the case of a missing husband, enlisting the help of a con-artist fox, Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman). While uncovering the crime, Judy and Nick unveil a major conspiracy, a plot twist that serves as a contemporary parable about power and privilege. It doesn’t hurt that the movie also features a Who’s Who of Hollywood stars, making it an interesting game of “guess that voice” for the parents.
Age range: PG-13/Family
Title: Alice in Wonderland
Where to watch: Disney+, Amazon Prime
Elevator pitch for parents: A beloved classic gets the Tim Burton treatment.
Elevator pitch for kids: Watch this fabled tale come to life on the big screen.
While this adaptation of the classic children’s book isn’t specifically about a bunny, it’s a worthy addition to this list given the central role the fussy and fastidious White Rabbit (voiced by Michael Sheen) plays in the plot.
The cast alone should be enough to pique interest, with Mia Wasikowska as Alice, Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen and Anne Hathaway as the White Queen – not to mention Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry and Christopher Lee, too.
If nothing else, the film is a visual delight, chock-full of sumptuous scenes. Burton lives up to his penchant for creating a fantastical world populated with quirky characters – and the Academy Awards agreed, with the film winning Oscars for art direction and costume design.
If you have more suggestions for notable children’s programming, send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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