Beatrix Potter (Renee Zellweger) begins her career as an author of children's books in 1902 London. She never planned to marry but may have a change of heart, thanks to publisher Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor).
Big question: Can this costume drama capture the world of a woman who, for most of her life, preferred imaginary animals to people?
Skip it: If "Miss Potter" delved into Potter's unusual fixation with furry creatures, the movie could have revealed the opening of her heart to more than just rabbits, ducks and frogs. But the movie's knickers are on far too tight, and the love story is played so prudishly that it never becomes an in-depth portrait of a woman with limited interest in the pleasures of the adult world.
Catch it: If you want to see McGregor in yet another boyish, idealist role. ("Big Fish," "Moulin Rouge," "Down with Love.") Could the actor have been cast simply because he shares the last name of one of Potter's characters?
Bottom line: When Potter talks to her animals and imagines that the drawings are moving, "Miss Potter" is a small, precious glimpse into an author's vivid imagination. But the film's spirit isn't terribly playful, and any real conflict is buried deeper than Peter Rabbit's carrots.
Bonus: At the very least, this is a reminder to go back and enjoy Potter's cheerful characters and drawings. Even the toughest cynics can't deny a bushy tail!
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
Directed by Chris Noonan; screenplay by Richard Maltby Jr.; cinematography by Andrew Dunn; edited by Robin Sales; production design by Martin Childs; produced by Mike Medavoy, David Kirschner, Corey Sienega, Arnold Messer and David Thwaites. A Weinstein Company release; opens Friday at the Pipers Alley and Evanston CineArts theaters. Running time: 1:32. MPAA rating: PG (for brief mild language).
Beatrix Potter - Renee Zellweger
Norman Warne - Ewan McGregor
Millie Warne - Emily Watson
Mrs. Potter - Barbara Flynn
Rupert Potter - Bill PatersonCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times