Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Secret Life of Pets Review

The Secret Life of Pets Review
My fiance and I have a four-year-old Morkie dog named Charlie. We have had Charlie together ever since he was a puppy. Since both of us work all day, five days a week, my fiance has often asked me "What do you think Charlie does all day when we are gone?" Sadly, I couldn't even fathom to brainstorm an answer. What do our pets do when we are gone all day? Do you ever wonder that? My fiance and I have even discussed putting cameras in our apartment, just to see what Charlie is up to. 

"The Secret Life of Pets" is a film about what our pets are up while we are away. Its takes the family-friendly, fun route in delving into the lives of our pets and focuses on an apartment complex full of domesticated animals and how they all hang out and have fun while their owners are at work. The main character is a dog named Max (Louis C.K.) who loves his owner very much. He's spoiled, and his life revolves around his human. So much so that he spends his day starring at the apartment door, hoping for the moment his master walks through the door. One day, Max's master brings home another dog named Duke (Eric Stonestreet) whom she adopts to keep Max busy during the day. Max feels Duke is invading his territory and the two can't seem to get along. 

One day, when Max and Duke's master is at work, they leave the apartment and go to the park. There, Max takes Duke into an alley to try and get him lost. After a tussle with a group of alley cats, Max and Duke loose their collars and are taken away by Animal Control. They are rescued by a group of abandoned pets, led by a bunny named Snowball (Kevin Hart). Max and Duke must make their way back home, still being hunted by Animal Control and Snowball and his crew once they don't pledge allegiance to him.

"The Secret Life of Pets" was made by a group of filmmakers who really know the norms and fundamentals of owning a pet. There are several pet-owning jokes throughout the entire film that are both clever and hilarious. The voice work by the actors is spot-on and includes additional work by Ellie Kemper, Hannibal Burgess, Steve Coogan, Albert Brooks and Lake Bell, all of whom do splendid work. The animation is, without a doubt, flawless in just about every aspect.

The thing with "The Secret Life of Pets" is that it doesn't really break any new ground. Its not a Pixar movie. Its not "Shrek" or "Despicable Me" or something that I think I would stack with all the animated all-time greats. In fact, it kind of feels like pieces of other movies. One could argue that this is a version of "Toy Story" with animals. Others could argue that its just another version of "Despicable Me" about finding identity and finding a place of belonging. Look, I am not trying to say that every new animated movie HAS to break new ground. But there when half a dozen movies get released a year about wanting to belong, sometimes movies get lost in the shuffle.

I will say this, "The Secret Life of Pets" certainly does love to throw laughs at the audience. They end up sticking more often then not, and I think the more tender, emotional parts of the movie hit me harder simply because I am proud pet-owner. Its just that "The Secret Life of Pets" just won't stick like the great animated films do. I think while Illumination Studios is still playing with ideas and concepts, they still haven't quite found their voice as a studio yet. But boy, they are getting close and they are having some fun along the way.


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