The Secret life of Pets- Film Review
At first, when I saw the trailer of The Secret Life of Pets, I was curious about the film. Its story line is based on what pets get up to when they are locked inside the house or left in the yard, when their human companions are gone.
This animation film sees the lead character, Max (voiced by Louis C.K.) explain in voice-over the exultant relationship he’s got going with his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper), right before she hits him with the big furry surprise: Duke (“Modern Family’s” Eric Stonestreet), a rescue dog, which will be joining their happy home.
As a kid my mind often lingered on oddities such as how ants communicate in their underground tunnels, thus the film genuinely intrigued me. However my expectations plummeted within the first 30 minutes of the film as it lacks the substances of its theme.
In one of the better lines, Max seeks to describe Duke to Katie as “the death of all good things,” which to his owner, naturally, just sounds like a series of frantic barks. Yet the expected parallels to childhood — feeling replaced by a new sibling — quickly devolve into a fractured series of subplots, dead ends and malnourished storytelling.
Specifically, Max and Duke wind up on the street together — lost, without their collars and desperate to get back to a New York skyline apartment. Moreover, they encounter a homicidal bunny voiced by Kevin Hart, leading a gang of stray animals on a crusade to destroy people, beginning with these domesticated mutts who dare embrace them.
The story often touches on animal abandonment and even death but treats these morbid ideas with a weird lightness, as if the storytellers were unsure how to talk to kids seriously. This is especially telling when the film briefly explains what happened to Duke’s former owner, a rather significant moment in his life that isn’t given much significance in the end.
However, what the movie lacks in story, it makes up for in character. Jenny Slate is clumsy and awkward as hopeless/ruthless romantic Gidgit, Lake Bell continues being a voice acting queen as plumb sarcastic cat Chloe, and Albert Brooks gets the honour of voicing cinema’s funniest hawk ever. And then there’s psycho bunny Snowball, which is basically a minion voiced by Kevin Hart who looks quite harmless but speaks like a drug lord, who constantly wails out in neurotically funny fits about his friend Ricky, a goose who died after attacking a human.
The Secret Life of Pets will feel like an endurance test for most adult viewers due to its generic immature features of animation but will however entertain a juvenile audience.