The Secret Life of Pets (Review)
I think everyone, from adults to children, were all excited for this movie ever since the teaser trailer was released almost a year ago! Click here to watch the trailer.
So the film starts with a short Minions film, who after watching a commercial advertising a blender, take up landscaping so they can purchase it. Being Minions, not everything goes quite right. Of course, once they've got it, something better comes up and it all begins again. Personally, I'm really not a fan of the Minions so watching this unexpected bonus felt like torture.
From the trailer I got the impression that this film was focussed on the alternate reality that animals get up to while their owners are at work. I honestly thought it was one of the best trailers of the year and it really built up the anticipation for the movie. on the other hand, the film was a little bit of a let down. Everything funny about the project was included in the trailer. So yes, there are some funny moments but none unexpected and no laugh-your-guts out. My favourites include the posh and sophisticated poodle who switches the music from Mozart to death metal when his owner leaves, the dachshund who uses the whisk to scratch his belly and the cat who eats the whole chicken before moving onto the whole cake!
The characters are a random and oddly incompatible bunch. From an obedient and lovable dog named Max to a big, hairy dog named Duke, cotton ball, sweet Gidget is the prettiest but there is also a lost moronic guinea pig and a homicidal bunny and a pig with tattoos (such a sad past life story!)
The main plot centers around Max, an adorable dog owned by Katie who has a blissfully perfect world. The animals visit one another’s apartments, dance and play loud music having the time of their lives in this alternate reality until the humans return and they pretend that they’ve been waiting for them the whole time.
One day Katie brings home a 'brother' for Max: Duke. Duke begin to make some sort of an effort but Max does not want any competition for Katie’s affection and then he turns. He sleeps in Max’s bed, eats his food, and is ruining all the comfort that Max’s home once had. Rivalry and resentment ensue. While out at the park with the dog walker, Duke attempts to get rid of Max, but a gang of homeless cats attack and they end up on the streets of New York City without their collars.
Everyone else is completely unaware until Gidget releases and alerts everyone else. Meanwhile, the two dogs get chased by animal control and have to lie to escape. Only it backfires and Snowball, the crazy rabbit, ends up creating more trouble for Max and Duke as they desperately try to get back home. Gidget takes it upon herself to organise the other animals in their neighborhood to form a search party.
Gidget slowly became my favourite character. At first I thought she was this pretentious character who was just after a man but slowly she grew and her stubborn side really helped motivate the entire group.
Now onto the real negative points or did I already start? It get's worse... The movie is not just a little slow in its setup but super slow. There are far too many animals introduced so it's really hard to follow them all slowly. Somehow, some disappear and then reappear later with no explanations. I felt the plot lost it's flow in stages and just had huge gaps of questions. There weren't any 'adult' jokes, so unlike a lot of children's cartoon, there weren't really any side stories for the more mature audience to enjoy.
It's not especially memorable so I can't see it becoming a childhood favourite. With ample missed opportunities, you’re never given enough to truly appreciate and care about any of the characters. Sure, they’re animated, cute and funny but I think any one of them could be cut without being missed. Not only that but there is nothing that really ties these pets together other than their proximity. To me, they don’t feel like they're really friends even though they’re all friendly.
One of the worst and most disappointing scenes is when Duke finds his old home but after a brief quest to find his owner, the could-be touching moment is destroyed. It's completely overturned and instantly forgotten.
To me the overwhelming stand out in the entire animation is the fact in New York, every single flat has a pet. From dogs and cats, to birds and fish...or a little lost guinea pig. Crammed into this packed residential zone with no gardens are all these animals. I know it was done for effect but I've always felt sorry for pets, especially dogs, that don't have gardens to run around in.
So overall, I think it's pretty obvious that I didn't fall in love with this movie, in fact I almost hated it. I can't see myself ever choosing to watch this movie again but with all its flaws it does have a nice message. A good message for kids.