The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

The Secret Life of Pets

7.6 / 10

Pros:

  • Great animation. Flowed nicely with the story, and it moves quick enough to compliment the fast paced humor of the film.
  • Characters were pretty funny, and likable for the most part.
  • Nicely paced
  • Voice acting was solid. No real complaints there.
  • 3-D visuals are amazing. Definitely worth the extra money to see it
  • Cinematography was decent.

Cons:

  • Weak generic story that's filled with cliches, and various other tropes that we've seen in the past.
  • Very predictable story arc that's decent, but it's not really all that memorable.

I'm not an animal!!!

I know it's popular to bash this movie, while calling it a blatant rip off of "Toy Story", and possibly "Look Who's Talking Now", as "Secret Life of Pets" shares a lot of parallels with both movies. However, i would like to point out that "Toy Story" isn't entirely original either. If you want to take this even further, the basic premise for "Toy Story" was actually a rip off of Jim Henson's classic TV special, "The Christmas Toy", which premiered in 1986.

Don't believe me? Well, let's look at the basic plot for "The Christmas Toy." Whenever people aren't around, the toys immediately come to life, as they're not allowed to be sentient around us. One toy is considered the favorite of their owner, but immediately feels threatened by the arrival of a new toy that could take it's place. And this new toy happens to be based on some space adventuring character that thinks it's real, even though it's just a toy. Sound familiar?

Granted, there were obviously differences as well like the toys dying if they're caught being sentient, or if a human spots them being out of place than where they were originally. But apart from a few minor differences, the stories for both of them do share a lot of parallels. Does this mean "Toy Story" is a bad film? Certainly not. Neither does this mean that "Secret Life of Pets" is a bad film either.

Granted, it's no "Zootopia", or anything close to that level of quality. But for the most part, it's a fun movie that'll give you a few laughs, while taking you on a fun adventure along the way.

The story follows a young dog named Max, who's voiced by Louis CK, that lives alone with his owner, who raised since he was a puppy. The two grow remarkably close, but he suddenly feels threatened by the arrival of a new dog, Duke (Eric Stonestreet), that his master brings into the apartment. As one would expect, the two naturally don't like each other at first, as it soon becomes a competition to attain their master's love and affection. Max tries to get rid of Duke anyway he can, while Duke isn't too fond of him either.

And in a series of unlikely events, the two find themselves separated from their owner, and thousands of miles away from home. Like most buddy road trip films, the two eventually have to learn to work together to find their way home, while bonding a little bit along the way. Like most movies geared towards families and kids, you know how everything going to end. Everyone will be fine. None of the main characters are going to die.

And for the most part, that's really the only real problem with "The Secret Life of Pets" is the fact that it's predictable as all hell. Seriously, you can pretty much predict exactly what's going to happen, after the first ten minutes, and then literally predict when each plot point will happen.

For instance. You have the girl crushing on a guy that's oblivious to her affections cliche that you know is going to play out exactly the way you think it will. Or the fact that you know at some point both Duke and Max are going to become buddies, so there's really not too many surprises because "Secret Life of Pets" plays it straight.

However, it makes up for it by giving us a lot of fluid fast paced animation that compliments the humor of the film nicely. I especially loved the antagonists in the film, as they weren't really villains per se, but rather characters that are thrust into antagonistic roles.

Along the way, our heroes run into an animal society, in the sewers, that are supposedly made up of abandoned former pets. The secret former pet society consists of animals such as anacondas, tarantulas and etc, with their ring leader being a cute bunny rabbit named Snowball, who's voiced by Kevin Hart.

First of all, I loved the irony of this setup. You have all these deadly creatures plotting to destroy humanity like an alligator, an anaconda, tarantulas and etc; creatures that most people would be terrified of. Yet they all take orders from a small bunny rabbit, who's arguably the least threatening out of all of them? The comedy practically writes itself, and it's even more perfect that Snowball is voiced by Kevin Hart.

Like most comedic actors of today's era, Kevin Hart usually plays the same character in almost all of his films. In each of his movies, he always plays the fast talking black guy that tries to talk a big game, but he's really a giant wimp. Here, it's a perfect combination because it's such a great fit with Kevin Hart's usual forte of roles, and it only makes it all the more funnier.

While I doubt seriously "The Secret Life of Pets" will become an animated classic down the road, it's a decent movie that's good for a few laughs. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't seen it already.

© 2016 Steven Escareno

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Comments 3 comments

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 weeks ago from Nashville Tn.

I've got to see this one! I love animals and the curiosity of the movie title alone is enough to beckon me to the theater. Thanks Steven.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 weeks ago from The Garden State

I took my 8 year old to see this on his birthday. We had lots of fun. He loved it! The new "Minions" short that ran before the movie was a nice bonus too.


CYong74 profile image

CYong74 3 weeks ago from Singapore

Heh. I have to disagree with you on this. I watched this last week and while it wasn't dreadful, it felt stale and boring after half an hour. The movie just seemed to revolve around that one gag of pets having human personalities.

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