Movie Review: ‘The Secret Life of Pets’


Director: Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney

Cast: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Albert Brooks, Jenny Slate, Steve Coogan, Ellie Kemper

Plot: Max is a terrier living with his owner Katie in Manhattan, where he spends his days pining for her to come home from work. When Katie brings home a new dog, Duke, Max takes an instant dislike and schemes to get rid of him. When his plan goes awry the two are left stranded in New York struggling to get home.

Review: Goodness, this is taking a long time to get to Australia. Coming from Chris Renaud, the brain behind the Despicable Me and Minions films in addition to The Lorax, this was not a film I had any interest in. I’d found his previous work to range from irritating to shockingly misguided. Still, this was a film for children so I gathered up the young’ns and hoped for the best. Upon leaving my impression was…not bad.

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The marketing for the film leans heavily on the first act of the movie, wherein we see what the pets get up to whilst their owners are at work. This is also the part of the film with the most potential for creativity. Between the budgie and metal fanatic poodle there’s fun to be had here. Once the action moves outside of the apartment block it takes on a more generic kids movie journey with various encounters with hairless street cats and an insane rabbit trying to bring down the human race. From there is pretty much runs the course as expected.

Although the main plot is a paint by numbers affair, the adventures of the rescue party trying to track them down is more entertaining. Pairing the lovestruck Pomeranian (Jenny Slate) with a dangerous hawk (Brooks) leads to some of the best interactions in the movie, making up for the bland banter between Max and Duke (C.K. and Stonestreet respectively). 

In terms of presentation the voice acting and animation is serviceable. It’s not making any bold leaps or getting especially creative, but it does the job. Each actor brings out the personality of their character well enough. Kevin Hart is polluting our screens once again, making this his five film in the past year and half. Whilst he might be a decent enough comedian, he’s not doing the world of cinema any favours.

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It’s not a great movie, but it’s an inoffensive family film that will entertain the young kids without irritating the parents. You might even get a couple of laughs out of it.

Rating: SIX out of TEN

On a final note, we all like that trick of Pixar’s where they put the upcoming movie’s character hidden the current film. It’s almost impossible to find and you usually have to go back once you know who the new character is. This film plasters a poster for the next release, Sing, on the bus used for the climatic chase scene. Just calm down there, marketing.

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