The Secret Life of Pets
By: John Delia
Very funny and creative, The Secret Life of Pets puts together a raucous little ditty filled with some very cute characters. The story idea may not be original, as it takes a premise much like that of Toy Story, but this animated film delivers a lot of twists for the more mature children. From the gang that gave us Despicable Me and Minions, the art style works here as does the similar sometimes dark comedy. Safe for most of the family, especially those that have matured, the movie spools out nicely for teens to twenties as well.
So what goes on with your pet when the master has left for the day? That’s the running gag throughout that has Max, a Terrier, finding himself in a whole lot of trouble. But, let’s start from the beginning so we can imagine what happens in the rest of the story.
Max (Louis C.K.) has been Katie’s (Ellie Kemper) pet ever since he was rescued from a box on the streets of New York City. He’s grown to love his master, knowing she will come home from wherever she goes every day so he can enjoy her company. On this one occasion; however, Katie comes home with a big hairy stray dog named Duke (Eric Stonestreet). Not too happy about his new bunkmate who’s been trying to take over, Max tries very hard to cope with the massive intruder. After a disagreement between the two pets at home, their dog walker takes the two along with several others to a park. When Max and Duke find themselves loose in New York City, things start to look dim and dangerous for the two lost souls.
Directors Chris Renaud (Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2) and Yarrow Cheney take their film to the streets of the big city and dim narrow back alleys with Max and Duke as our guides. Here they maneuver themselves into one perilous situation after another. In the meanwhile, Renaud introduces other main characters including a feisty love struck Pomeranian named Gidget (Jenny Slate), Chloe (Lake Bell) a cat with a huge appetite, Snowball (Kevin Hart) a crazed rabbit that leads a gang of animals in a sewer, a hyper pug named Mel Bobby Moynihan), a cranky precarious hawk named Tiberius (Albert Brooks), a confused guinea pig called Norman (Chris Renaud), Pops (Dana Carvey) a brilliant, yet paralyzed basset hound and a pig covered in tattoos named Tattoo (Michael Beattie).
Getting into trouble and finding their way are the main theme to show the behaviors of friendship, dealing with situations, helping others, faithfulness and sharing. All meaningful and inspiring, the film does a good job of leading into these important deeds that keep children on the right track. Getting to the point of it all, the characters make some bad decisions, misbehave at times and even have to find a way to escape from being captured by Animal Control. But it’s all in good fun and there’s a happy ending of their adventure before the credits roll.
The Secret Life of Pets has been rated PG for action and some rude humor. As always, parental guidance is suggested for the very young as the sewer scenes are a little scary with a large snake and other creepy crawlies. And there’s dicey plan set by Snowball to try and kill Max and Duke. There is also a scene of peril involving an Animal Control vehicle sinking into a river with our main characters on board.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A fun family film for mature kids and adults (with some child left in them). (B)