The Secret Life of Pets, rated PG
Have you ever wondered what our pets do when we are away from them during the day – at work, school, etc.? This animated film set in New York City looks at a day in the life of the pets living in a large apartment building. The film is co-directed by Yarrow Cheney and Chris Renaud (who directed Despicable Me 1 and 2) and written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio (who wrote Despicable Me 1 and 2), and Brian Lynch who wrote Minions. The film had an estimated budget of $75 million and has already made over $200 million in its first two weeks of release.
Max (voiced by Louis C.K.) is a terrier who loves his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper). He can’t wait for her to return back to the apartment each evening. But one evening she brings a new dog, the large rescue Duke (Eric Stonestreet). Now Max does not have all of Katie’s affections to himself and must share them with this large new “brother”, who is not very nice to Max, eating his food and sleeping in his dog bed. Max must find a way to convince Katie to get rid of the big dog that is making his life miserable.
The next thing we know, they are out of the apartment building on the streets of the city. We see them attacked by a gang of cats, including Ozone (Steve Coogan), and the alleycats remove Max and Duke’s collars. Soon, they are caught by Animal Control and are being hauled off. That’s when Max and Duke encounter Snowball, a former magician’s rabbit (Kevin Hart), the leader of the Flushed Pets, who live in the sewers. Snowball is preparing to lead his group of discarded pets in a revolution against humans. All Max and Duke want to do is to get back to the safety of their apartment building.
Gidget (Jenny Slate) who has a crush on Max, convinces the other pets in the apartment building to go looking for Max. We meet Chloe the cat (Lake Bell), the bulldog Mel (Bobby Moynihan), Tiberius the hawk (Albert Brooks) and others who set out to find Max to bring him home. They get assistance from a paralyzed elderly basset hound named Pops (Dana Carvey). We see Max and Duke begin to put their differences behind them and join together as allies in their quest to return home.
There were several instances of mild “toilet humor” throughout the film, which always got a giggle from the children in the audience. Some parts of the film, particularly those in the sewers (with an alligator and large snake) could be scary for very young children.
There was much to like about this film that shows the positive relationship between pets and humans, although I have to admit that many of the funniest parts of the film were featured in the trailer that has been playing for months. Although we enjoyed the film, it started feeling a bit long at 87 minutes, and the writing was not on par with better animated films of 2016 Zootopia or Finding Dory.
Note: get to the theater early as a new Minions short film Mower Minions, plays before the feature film.