When the live-action adaptation of "Peter Rabbit" was first announced, fans of the source material were likely expecting a breezy, light-hearted romp about the rascally but lovable rabbit they'd come to adore in the pages of Beatrix Potter's beloved children's books. Instead, they got a fully Poochie-fied version of Potter's characters that transformed Peter (voiced by James Corden) into a smarmy, wise-cracking party boy, more bully than a cute, fluffy bunny. The film proved divisive, to say the least, with NPR's Mark Jenkins quipping, "The latest version of 'Peter Rabbit' would represent [Potter's] worst nightmare," in his scathing review.
However, as evinced by the film's solid-enough Rotten Tomatoes scores, "Peter Rabbit" wasn't all bad. Even Jenkins admits that the film is beautifully animated, with several other critics noting the film is often quite charming. The animated film features an impressive live-action and voice talent cast, including Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Sam Neill, Elizabeth Debicki, and Daisy Ridley, among others. Unfortunately, "Peter Rabbit" also features one ill-advised scene that left more than a few mouths agape as, at one point in the film, Peter takes his fun-loving antics too far and leaves one of his human counterparts in severe peril.The notorious "Peter Rabbit" scene found the titular bunny and his floppy-eared cohorts attempting to murder their new neighbor Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) in another effort to raid their favorite vegetable garden. This go-round, their assault includes giddily lobbing blackberries in the poor man's direction though it's clear that Peter (James Corden) and his crew know McGregor is highly allergic to them.
When one of the deadly berries finds its way into McGregor's mouth, anaphylactic shock soon follows, but he manages to save himself thanks to the EpiPen he carries. The mean-spirited scene could not be more out of tune with the works of Beatrix Potter, and it rightfully earned the ire of many parents for its lack of care in addressing the delicate, potentially deadly nature of food allergies (per CNN). The Kids With Food Allergies division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) promptly issued a statement informing the producers that such food allergy bullying has become a serious issue and has resulted in the death of allergy sufferers.
A boycott with its own online hashtag soon followed, forcing Sony to issue an official apology the same weekend "Peter Rabbit" premiered. Said apology found the studio and filmmakers saying, "We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize," (per US News). That statement seemed to ease the tension surrounding "Peter Rabbit," though the film's food bullying scene remains a bit of a sour point.