The Tomatometer rating – based on the published opinions of hundreds of film and television critics – is a trusted measurement of movie and TV programming quality for millions of moviegoers. It represents the percentage of professional critic reviews that are positive for a given film or television show.
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The Tomatometer is 60% or higher.
The Tomatometer is 59% or lower.
Movies and TV shows are Certified Fresh with a steady Tomatometer of 75% or higher after a set amount of reviews (80 for wide-release movies, 40 for limited-release movies, 20 for TV shows), including 5 reviews from Top Critics.
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If the source material is soft, the film then takes another punch with the casting of Renée Zellweger in the title role. She overflows with tics and twitches that make the author seem vaguely deranged.
Unbearably, the script accommodates a quaking courtship between the slightly dotty Potter and her devoted young publisher, ho exchange romantic byplay such as, "You and rabbits -- extraordinary!" and "I recently remembered a story...about a duck!"
The thinness shows -- there isn't much of a story. Beatrix starts out as a feisty, idiosyncratic, talented gal and, save for a momentary lapse after a brush with tragedy, remains so right to the end of the bunny trail.
Miss Potter gives us only the bedtime version of the Beatrix Potter story, perhaps appropriately so given the subject matter and target audience, which will likely be captivated by the film's undemanding narrative.
The uncertain rhythms and stresses of the piece suggest that they didn't know whether they were making a romance, a biography or a bedtime story. Miss Potter is all three, of course. And all are very engaging -- and happily G-rated.
This attractive, superficial stab at biography, with Renée Zellweger in the title role, is more concerned with a lonely woman's quest for acceptance and love than with an author's worldly achievements.
Known in the United States for her whimsical books, Potter was an ecological champion in the United Kingdom. The film touches on this, but mostly it's a tender tale about yearning hearts and courageous idealism.
Despite Noonan's balancing social friction and fantasy, Miss Potter entrances and delights throughout. It's a beautifully made fairy tale with roots in reality, and all the more satisfying as a result.
Miss Potter is the first movie to be directed by Chris Noonan since Babe, and it has a similar intelligence and grace. Noonan uses the device of having the illustrated animals offer commentary judiciously.
Ultimately, we're won over by Beatrix's story. Hers was, as Richard Griffiths says of Thomas Hardy in The History Boys, 'a saddish life, but not an unappreciated one.' Even more appreciated now, thanks to this honest, unassuming little film.
A bit paint-by-numbers, not to torture a pun out of all this, but when the story of Beatrix Potter, spinster book author and happenstance feminist, eventually does take shape, it is an emotionally and even politically potent story.
It is a lovely film for the holiday season, as well as afterward, and is reminiscent of Finding Neverland, without the darker undercurrents. Zellweger does a fine job of fleshing out the plucky character despite the occasional simper.
The movie is redeemed by excellent performances. McGregor, in particular, lights up the film, and in her scenes with him, when she is not forced to interact with watercolor rabbits, Zellweger seems to wake up from a long, cranky nap.
The movie pulls off a neat trick, using animation to show how, when Potter is alone with her animal creations, they leap around on the page or wink at her with unapologetic cheekiness. They're alive, and they're in charge.