What If? - Quentin Rabbit, Peter Tarantino

Taking a look at what should have been, could be or simply would make an interesting idea. There are so many possibilities... so what if Steve Taylor-Bryant tasked Quentin Tarantino with remaking a children's classic?...

I love my children. They vary in ages like my wine collection, they make me happy and sad in equal measure, like my wine collection, and they are all unique and different personalities (unlike the wine collection, which is all red.) This leads to them having different tastes in entertainment and I've loved watching those tastes evolve over time. You don't remember your own changing, as you are living the change, so watching something that happened to you from someone else's perspective is fascinating. I'm also really lucky as all four of the children still at home have little somethings in common with me which makes getting along slightly easier. The oldest, No2, is training to be a chef, which is a career I spent over 20 years of my life in, and he likes rock music. No3 wants to be a film journalist and is currently debating the emotional worth of Marvel with me. The girl of the group, as she approaches her 11th birthday, still likes dolls and cuddly toys but has also consumed all my Linda Carter Wonder Woman DVDs, loves the Supergirl TV series and is always close to a book.

No4 is slightly different. He is 4 years old and not as easily swayed into watching what daddy wants yet. I don't mind, I've grown to love Paw Patrol, I liked Thomas the Tank Engine anyway, who doesn't like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? (Heroes in a half shell. TURTLE POWER!!) and, for the first year, I didn't mind the Peter Rabbit cartoon currently on a children's channel. But 4 years? Of the same episodes? And it's for kids, so it has none of the mental violence connotations of the original books. How did Squirrel Nutkin lose his tail? In the book, Old Brown ripped it from his body in a hideous attack, except these are children's shows, so it popped off quite easily and now I've got 15 minutes of Nutkin playing fashion model with other things that could be a tail. Peter Rabbit worships his father but it's never told in the show that Farmer McGregor turned Mr. Rabbit into a rather delicious pie. And then we get to Peter and his pals, burglars, thieves, an ASBO waiting to happen. But no, it's kids TV, so stealing radishes from a hard working farmer and torturing a fox are okay things for the youth of today to get up to. No4 loves it, it works as well as it calms him right down before bed. Me? I drift off into dangerous ideas and then drunkenly tweet them and move on. Except this one is sticking. Peter Rabbit as made by Quentin Tarantino.

The original feel of the books was a lot darker than the television show and silently showed you a world beyond the words on the page, a more psychopathic world where animals could talk, yes, but also had to outrun and often harm each other to survive. At least that's what I got from them, how was your upbringing? So how do we get that feel into a package for grown ups to buy into? We go animated and we go full Tarantino. It may sound daft but in my head this works so bear with me for a minute whilst I lay the idea out.

I don't know a lot of animation, I like what I see and all that but couldn't tell you who produced what so I'm going off advice given to me by Susan who loves all things drawn and, when I asked the question "what animation studio could pull off a Tarantino movie if I had this idea?" she responded thusly...

Studio Ghibli is the obvious choice for me as they make pretty cartoons with hard hitting stories. Some great examples of this can be found in Princess Mononoke (which has a really cool cast btw of Billy Bob Thornton, Billy Crudup, Gillian Anderson etc) and the darkness of Howl’s Moving Castle, but I loved the style of the animation in The Princess Kaguya and it's the same ink and watercolour idea as the original Beatrix Potter illustrations so, with the additions of guns and violence would be totally Tarantino left-field.

If you want a harder edge but still a beautiful animation look, Production IG is the studio to go for as they did Ghost in the Shell (which is untouchable - even though Hollywood are touching it but that is a whole different rant - as a beautiful subtle, highly violent animation) and were the studio that actually DID the animation sequences in Kill Bill Vol 1 so they have previous with Tarantino's work.

For a more indie comic feel, Studio Bones is the current “darling” of the anime world and, if you want proper Japanese kids cartoon feel, Studio Toei is the one to go for, with Yu gi O and Dragonball Z in their collection, or OLM Studios, who did the original Pokemon cartoons.

Personally, I would go with Studio Ghibli because I love the "look" but I can see definite merits for Production IG expanding their Tarantino portfolio.

So there we go, Tarantino and Studio Ghibli are teaming up to make a more violent representation of Peter Rabbit. Now to the cast and you'll see some Tarantino greats in this lot.

Mr McGregor - constantly being robbed by Peter and his group of thugs and slowly losing the patience he once had. He's already caught and brutally murdered Peter's father and made him into a pie. Who could carry off such a level of violence and want to catch more thugs on his land? Step forward Mr. Samuel L. Jackson. "You motherfucking rabbits thinking you can come on my mother FUCKING land and take radishes that don't belong to you?" I've got chills...

Mr. Tod the Fox - Ah, the wonderful of slightly too posh to be a fox Mr. Tod, who struts the woods with his cane and velvet smoking jacket wanting nothing more than to catch Peter, Benjamin and Lily and put them in a casserole dish. I'm going for a slightly more common approach to the fox though. The fox should be scary, capable of a level of violence not seen from other woodland animals, and someone who can play frustration when he doesn't get his kill. Can only be Michael Madsen really, the one guy from Tarantino's back catalogue who genuinely scares me on screen, although when I interviewed him a few years back, I've got to say he's a wonderful gent.

Tommy Brock the Badger - the sleepy one, the one who loves his worms and doesn't necessarily want to eat Peter et al but when they stop him collecting his worms or his valuable junk he would tear them to pieces with his claws and power. It's also a way to stop those sad and pathetic insurance adverts so welcome Harvey Keitel to the cast.

Old Brown the Owl - the wise old owl who just wants peace and quiet and to pick up the odd woodland animal. I want someone who can up his violence but would usually be calmer unless provoked so I'm delving back into Pulp Fiction and selecting Marsellus Wallace himself, Ving Rhames.

Squirrel Nutkin - this bloody squirrel is nuts (sorry), a bit manic but, underneath the insanity and humour, he has a steel about him that allows him to survive and help Peter's gang along the way. A bit fearful and normally only confronts our villains by accident than any kind of bravery, and has a voice unique in the show, it's not quite normal. Steve Buscemi is actually the first actor I wrote down when I dreamt up this idiocy and think he would suit the part really well.

So now we come to our gang of thuggish thieves wreaking havoc on the woods and the farm and leaving frustration and chaos in their wake. First up is Benjamin Bunny.

Benjamin Bunny -  a weak childlike animal who wants so much to impress his fearsome leader, Peter, but deep down I think just wants to eat food and not succumb to the peer pressure so often. I've been through all Tarantino's films looking for someone to cast and I've discarded most of them. Bruce Willis is too Bruce Willis for the part, John Travolta could play it but he annoys me, and I kept going back to how Richard Gecko was always trying to please his brother Seth in From Dusk Till Dawn and that relationship is similar to the one I'm casting for so Benjamin will be played by the man himself, Quentin Tarantino.

Lily Bobtail - is quick witted, prepared for any outcome and more than just Peter's tagalong she's his equal. There is some great female casting in Tarantino films, Jenifer Jason Leigh in Hateful Eight was astounding, Zoë Bell and Rosario Dawson in Death Proof were incredible and Pam Grier in Jackie Brown was just brilliant, but you can't cast a Tarantino project without Uma Thurman can you?

Peter Rabbit - And so to the crafty thief of the piece, Peter himself. A devious little bugger that wants nothing more than to emulate his father and be the best radish robber in the woods. He dreams up the escapades, has his dad's trusty journal on him at all times to find ways out of problems and has a cheeky and youthful exuberance about him. Casting him is quite easy though. All right everybody, be cool. This is a robbery! Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Tim Roth.

So there we have it. The basic outline to a Tarantino Peter Rabbit animation. It would be successful, even Inglorious Basterds made bucks, so could become a franchise and then you can have Kurt Russell as Jeremy Fisher, Amanda Plummer as Mrs Tiggy Winkle, Bruce Willis could voice Samuel Whiskers and the world would be a better place.

Images - IMDb/CBeebies/NickJr
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