The Secret Life of Pets
Cast: Louis CK, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart
Directors: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
Just a few weeks ago, my biggest complaint against Finding Dory was that while it was still as light and fresh as Finding Nemo 13 years ago, it didn’t make me sob in a theatre full of people - like Pixar movies tend to do. The Secret Life of Pets doesn’t make you cry either, but it makes you laugh so hard and so often, it’s enough to make you love it with all your heart.
This latest summer animated movie comes from Illumination Entertainment, the studio behind Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2, a series with which it also shares director Chris Renaud, and the lineage is evident in the same style of super-glossy animation and hilarious gags.
Max (voiced by Louis CK) is a devout pet to Katy, and is living the perfect life in the perfect New York City. He is friends with a whole lot of other pets who all live their own secret lives once their masters walk out the door. Except Max - he just waits for Katy by the door all day. But one unfortunate evening, she brings home a giant dog who needs nothing but a little love in life, Duke (voiced by Eric Stonestreet).
Max hates him from the first look (or should we say ‘the first lick’) and wants him out of the house. Reminds you a lot of Toy Story, doesn’t it? Guess what else? These two also get lost in the big city and run into a host of troubles, which includes getting mauled by a gang of street cats, running from dog catchers, and crossing paths with a band of ‘revolutionary’ ex-pets who want to kill all humans (and their leader is an adorably tiny but psychotic bunny, voiced by Kevin Hart).
While the movie does often rely on the most generic brand of slapstick comedy - something straight out of Roadrunner or Tom and Jerry - it also reminds you of the TV shows Community or Orange is the New Black whenever Kevin ‘Snowball’ Hart says anything at all. His voice fits the evil bunny’s persona so effectively, you want Hart to do his stand up act as Snowball from here on out. Snowball was the highlight of the movie and it’s not just my verdict. I could hear everyone say, as they left their seats in the theatre, ‘that bunny was so good’. Everyone.
Secret Life delivers recurring bouts of stomach-cramping laughter in a lot of short moments and that is what I remember best after two hours of letting it marinate in my head. Particular moments like the one in which a petite female dog tortures a rugged cat into confession, or when a tiny gang-rabbit pays homage to his fallen comrade, or maybe that time our lead doggies have a weird dream about wieners stuck with me. Even the poo and pee jokes manage to get a few chuckles.
Right now, I don’t feel as strongly about this movie as I did for Toy Story but I blame it on the fact that while I never had a dog or a cat in my life, I did have a lot of toys, as did every other kid. We all wondered what they did once we went to school and so, maybe the pet owners wondered it too. Secret Life of Pets is a wonderful answer to your paranoia and I recommend you watch it, with your pets if you can. Or wait, maybe they watched it already while you were at work today.
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