Pet Story

The Secret Life of Pets asks the question, what do pets do when their owners are away? It’s no secret that Illumination gives way more attention to the Despicable Me & Minions franchise. The Secret Life of Pets was their way of branching out, yet maintaining the marketable cuteness that they’re known for. Though you better believe they found a way to sneak Minions into it. Obviously this concept has been done before, but The Secret Life of Pets is a passable kids movie. Although I never had a pet, I am a fan of dog and cat videos on YouTube. The opening is basically a bunch of relatable antics that pets get into when their owners leave for work. The story may be average, but the computer animation, especially for New York, is pleasing to look at. Animals are well rendered with cartoony features. I couldn’t really relate to the cast, since they’re all part of stuff I don’t normally watch.

Comedian Louis C.K. is your standard loyal Jack Russell Terrier Max. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Ellie Kemper is Max’s standard dog owner Katie. Fellow comedian Jenny Slate is an adorable Pomeranian named Gidget with a standard crush on Max. Their standard group of apartment pets include Lake Bell as lazy tabby cat Chloe, Hannibal Buress as relaxed wiener dog Buddy, Bobby Moynihan as hyper pug Mel, the director as dimwitted guinea pig Norman, and nonverbal parakeet Sweet Pea. Their material isn’t always the best, so most of them are forgettable. Most of the jokes rely on potty humor and Looney Tunes style slapstick. The Secret Life of Pets is basically Toy Story with pets. Max is the favorite until the giant Newfoundland mutt Duke enters his life. I don’t watch Modern Family, so Eric Stonestreet didn’t do much for me. Like a less clever Woody & Buzz relationship, Max & Duke are at odds with each other before ending up lost.

They’re cornered by deranged alley cats including Steve Coogan as the hairless Ozone. Then they’re rescued by a sewer dwelling group of human hating animals who call themselves the Flushed Pets. Although he’s an adorable white bunny, the group’s villainous leader Snowball is voiced by Kevin Hart. Despite his constant riffing, Hart is funny in the unlikely role. Meanwhile, the apartment pets led by a lovesick Gidget try to rescue their friends. She enlists help from hungry hawk Tiberius voiced by Albert Brooks and paralyzed Basset Hound Pops voiced by Dana Carvey doing his old man impression. Max and Duke don’t connect until they find a sausage factory followed by a very out of nowhere dancing hot dog dream sequence. The scene would be weird enough on its own, but this was the same year as Sausage Party. When they fail to find Duke’s original owner, a series of car chases lead to Snowball becoming good and helping the pets get home. The “Lovely Day” pet reunion is probably the most heartwarming part of the movie. The Secret Life of Pets should please pet owners.

7. The Secret Life of Pets

Duke and Max in Snowball’s Flushed Pets lair

Followed by: The Secret Life of Pets 2

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