All Dogs Go To Heaven, Homeward Bound, Oliver & Company, Bolt, Balto, Lion King, and 101 Dalmatians have what in common? Animals. Most people have a very emotional attachment when it comes to animals and there are plenty of film catalogs to prove it. By the way, my favorite by far is one that wasn’t mentioned, “Cats & Dogs.” It was epic in every way.
So why not continue the trend with some brilliant ideas, quirky artistry, and a quasi-familiar direction, eh? Thanks to writers Ken Daurio, Brian Lynch, and Cinco Paul we have this amazing film, The Secret Life of Pets.
So to get things started, I have to tell you two things: First, this movie is absolutely hilarious and second, since this is a full review there shall be spoilers (proceed with caution).
The premise of the film lives within its title. People want to see what their pets are doing when they’re not around. Our first dog is Max (Louis C. K.). He lives with his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) in Manhattan and in his eyes, life is perfect. His circle of friends includes an overweight cat Chloe (Lake Bell), a fluffy dog Gidget (Jenny Slate), a Dachshund named Buddy (Hannibal Buress), and a Parakeet named Sweet Pea.
Max’s life is pretty swell until Katie rescues another dog (she rescued Max as well) and brings him home to stay. But this dog is a huge, slobbering nuisance named Duke (Eric Stonestreet) and is seriously cramping Max’s style. It didn’t take very long for Max to come to his ultimate and final decision: He must get rid of Duke.
At first blackmail was keeping him at bay but when Duke saw a window of opportunity, he took it, and haphazardly throws them into a hilarious adventure across New York.
You’ll get laughs out of all the characters but the funniest by far was Snowball (Kevin Hart). Snowball is a renegade rabbit that has an adorable look that doesn’t match his ‘Call of Duty’ mindset. Snowball is hellbent on exacting revenge on humans for discarding their pets. You know a film is going to be hilarious when fluffy bunnies quote scenes from Boyz in the Hood and dancing sausages carry tunes from Grease (the musical).
After Duke and Max are jumped by a large group of street cats, their collars are stolen and they get picked up by animal control. This is where they cross paths with Snowball. Snowball plans an escape for a bulldog that was also captured but resembles Bane from DC Comics. It was after this chance encounter the two realize that, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’
I like the slight infusions of culture every so often. For example, Gidget has a crush on Max and part of the reason is because she binge watches telenovelas all-day long when her owners leave. Leonard is a poodle who can control his owners iPod and immediately switches genres from Classical to Punk Rock once his owner leaves. One scene showed all the animals having a party at another pet’s house whose owner travels all the time and they were listening to rap music.
The twists and turns in this film are great and the characters are hysterical. It’s a movie that will keep kids locked in and parents entertained. At the film’s conclusion, I could overhear children talking to their parents and hearing the youthfully innocent sound of, “What’s Grease?” And I’m 95% sure the Boyz in the Hood reference went over everyone’s head (which is why after reading this review and you clicking the link above, you will be one of the few that get it).
The Secret Life of Pets gets a 9 out of 10. It’s approximately 90 mins. in length so it won’t get boring and the PG rating it earned was pretty accurate too. The lead role was a good one for Louis C.K. and I’m sure Kevin Hart will win over new fans as Snowball. I’m not sure this will do Finding Dory numbers but it will definitely do some serious damage at the box office this weekend.
*Photos courtesy of Universal