THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS – Film Review

Max (voice of Louis C.K.) is a spoiled terrier who enjoys a comfortable life in a New York building until his owner adopts Duke, a giant and unruly canine. During their walk outside, they encounter a group of ferocious alley cats and wind up in a truck that’s bound for the pound. Luckily, a rebellious bunny named Snowball swoops in to save the doggy duo from captivity. In exchange, Snowball demands that Max and Duke join his gang of abandoned pets on a mission against the humans who’ve done them wrong.

Despite the fact that The Secret Life of Pets managed to gross an incredibly impressive $875.4 million on a budget of $75 million, I have never seen the movie up until now. I do remember that at the time of the film’s release back in July of 2016, I was quite busy with catching up on other new release movies and I also went on a vacation that month and so I never got around to watching the film.

Even more surprising is that a sequel was released just a year ago and I hadn’t seen that one either, because, well, I hadn’t seen the first one. So, today, I was scrolling through potential films to watch and I saw the poster for The Secret Life of Pets and it dawned on me that I still hadn’t seen it, so I decided to finally see what it was all about. After watching it, I’m not really sure.

If you put this movie on for your very small child, they’re probably going to eat it up like candy. It’s a visually impressive movie with a ton of attention to detail and there are plenty of good colors to look at throughout and the city of New York looks great here, but it’s all there to distract you from the fact that this movie barely even has a story. It’s just about a couple of pets as they get involved in various shenanigans throughout the city while their owners are out at work.

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

It’s actually kind of insane how similar this film is to Toy Story. In that film, we follow a group of toys that go on various misadventures while their owners are not watching them. In this film, we follow a group of pets that go on various misadventures while their owners are not watching them. The difference is that in the Toy Story franchise, we actually get incredible character development with and every one of the toys, and we feel strong emotional attachments to them. Despite the fact that they are pieces of plastic, the toys feel so real and so lovable.

Here, the pets character development is nonexistent. They just have small quirks and that’s all the filmmakers give you and they hope that that will be enough for the audience to love the characters. It’s not nearly enough. Watching this movie, I didn’t care in the slightest bit about any of the characters which is a shame.

The one thing The Secret Life of Pets has going for it is that it’s only eighty-six minutes long so gratefully, it’ll be over fairly quickly and you won’t have to put up with it for long, but those eighty-six minutes are definitely a pain to have to trudge through. Don’t get me wrong – the film does have its occasionally entertaining moments, but for the most part, it’s just an endless series of meaningless events that are animated well. That does not make for a good movie.

Overall Grade: D

MPAA Rating: PG for action and some rude humor

Cast: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Steve Coogan, Albert Brooks

Directed by: Chris Renaud

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Release Date: July 8, 2016

Running Time: 86 minutes

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