Rabbit Academy – just another Easter bunny caper

5/10

Summary

Rabbit Academy: Mission Eggpossible REVIEW

An Easter/school holiday treat or just another way to soak up time? GARY STEEL reviews yet another film featuring bunnies.

Screening in NZ from Thursday 7 April

One of the dullest facets of being a dad to young children in 2022 involves an increasingly desperate search for films and TV shows that don’t insult their – or my – intelligence. It’s tough. The 7-year-old girl will watch anything as long as it’s not too “baby” but is more enamoured of fantastical scenarios and anything involving princesses than she is of dinosaurs and monster trucks. The 3-year-old boy, meanwhile, lives and breathes dinosaurs and monster trucks, aliens and superheroes but draws the line at Barbie.

 

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It’s always a great relief to find a motion picture that they both find absorbing for 90 minutes or more, even if it’s a great deal more challenging – and rare – to discover a film that Mum and Dad can enjoy too.

My test audience liked Rabbit Academy okay, although the youngest of the two got a bit bored at one point, and two days later, the older one found it hard to remember what it was all about. Meanwhile, the parents were practically catatonic.

This German film is no Pixar treat, and while the rather pastel-coloured animation refreshingly kicks against the trend of showing too much almost-forensic visual detail, it fails to establish its own aesthetic and ends up looking just a little bit 1990s.

I’m not sure if it was meant to be a 3D release, but certainly the number of shots of objects moving at speed towards the screen made me think that maybe that was its original raison d’être. (I auditioned the movie on a “screener” on my humble 55-inch television with a profusion of annoying branding on the screen at all times, a “watermark” presumably to prevent me from downloading it to the naughty-web, so there’s a chance that this fact also dinted my enthusiasm slightly).

The really sad thing about Rabbit Academy is that there’s nothing special about it. It’s not spectacularly bad, but I find it hard to dredge up one single thing that was unique or even quirky about it either.

The writing manages to be both flaky and derivative at the same time, and it feels as if its creators couldn’t quite agree on who the main/strongest character would be or even the core of the story, which hinges around a bunch of rabbits trying to save Easter. That is, the members of the Rabbit Academy spend most of the running time trying to keep a band of foxes away from the Easter eggs that a chicken – perched high on a hill – is pumping out. There’s one rogue rabbit that joins the foxes in their quest to get the eggs and spoil Easter, and one nice fox that befriends the rabbits to balance things out.

Although it could be painted as a film that celebrates difference via the nice fox befriending the rabbits, the writing isn’t sharp enough to make you feel it and the thrills and spills are all fairly mundane. The naughty bunny is also running a live-action video from his mobile phone, and I have to say it: I don’t want my kids to have phones until they’re teenagers, so it pisses me off that films for young kids are already propagandising gadgetry like this.

Afterwards, the kids harangued me to put on one of the Shrek films, which are almost year zero for computer animation, and the superiority over Rabbit Academy in every single facet was stark.

If your smallish kids are really desperate for a movie these school holidays then I’m sure they’ll enjoy Rabbit Academy, but the film will be as memorable for them as the popcorn they eat while watching it.

 

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