The Secret Life of Pets (U)

A pampered pooch’s perfect life is ruined when his owner gets a new pet.

Max (Louis C.K) is a spoiled terrier who lives a life of luxury in Manhattan with his beloved owner Katie (Ellie Kemper). But when she brings home another dog, Max’s life is turned upside down.

His new roommate, Duke (Eric Stonestreet), is a giant and rather unruly canine. During an afternoon stroll the duo encounter a group of ferocious alley cats hell-bent on getting in a cat fight. To avoid losing face the dogs run away. But their escape is short-lived as they wind up in a truck on the way to the pound.

Their only means of escape is to team up with a rebellious rabbit named Snowball (Kevin Hart). He’s crazy but he gets the job done. One the doggy duo are safe from their captors Snowball demands that they join his gang of abandoned pets on a mission against the humans who’ve wronged them.

Max’s neighbours launch a rescue mission to save the two dogs but it isn’t going to be an easy task. There’s Mel the pug (Bobby Moynihan), Chloe the tabby cat (Lake Bell) and Gidget (Jenny Slate), the cute eskimo dog who’s in puppylove with Max.

The spoiled canines will have to adapt quickly to street life otherwise they’ll be turned to Chum. Can their furry friends save them in time before it’s too late?

The Secret Life of Pets is ripping Toy Story off in every way imaginable. But hey I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! This movie follows the same premise as Toy Story, but instead of cutesy toys going on adventures, it’s a menagerie of animals. But the question remains the same. What do our playthings get up to when we’re not around?

Homewood Bound proved that everyone likes talking dogs, hell even Cats and Dogs isn’t half bad. However, I don’t think they’ve nailed it with this one. As usual all the best bits were in the trailers. There’s so much crammed into the movie that certain parts are neglected. In that sense, in overdrive, the Pixar similarities are left in the dust.

It is cool though to imagine what happens when we leave the house and our pets come out to play. The best moment for me was the sight gag of a cat repeatedly opening up the fridge contemplating whether to go to town or not. We’ve all been there.

Then there’s the sausage dog getting a massage from an electric whisk and a poodle named Leonard rocking out to some heavy metal instead of listening to classical music his owner put on for him.

The Secret Life of Pets is Illumination Entertainment’s fifth fully-animated feature-film, following Despicable Me, The Lorax, Despicable Me 2 and Minions. It just goes to prove the fame can be a fickle thing. The other movies were so funny and became instant family favourites. We’ve been so spoilt in the past that those movies now overshadow this one.

It may not be top dog but The Secret Life of Pets is still charming. There’s plenty of gags in there for youngsters and those young-at-heart.

By Ruth Walker
★★★☆☆

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