Have you ever imagined what shenanigans your pets are getting up to while you’re away? The Secret Life Of Pets shows us what could be happening behind the doors we close. That is, if you live in an apartment building full of pets that climb the walk-ups to party with each other, and plot a cross-town adventure to rescue their friends.
The movie opens with a stunning shot of New York City, panning through skyscrapers and Central Park, almost like it was filmed on a drone and then animated. The animators clearly studied their subjects well, especially the pets. Each cartoon animal moved like their real life counterpart would, and I’m not just talking about cats vs. dogs vs. birds. I mean fat cats vs. slinky cats and big dogs vs. little dogs and hawks vs. pigeons, etc. Along with the incredible detail that went into the animation of each creature, they were brilliantly voiced, and the combination created pathos that made every pet feel real enough to snuggle.
Max (Louis CK) is easily one of the most snuggly-looking characters in the movie. But this precious pup’s world is turned upside down when his owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper) brings home another rescue-dog, Duke (Eric Stonestreet). The two dogs are swept up in a rivalry for Katie’s affection, and this leads them to competing at the dog park, where they eventually get lost. They have some bad run-ins with Animal Control and a band of abandoned pets seeking revenge (led by Kevin Hart as a Monty Python and the Holy Grail-style bunny), leading Max and Duke to come together, with a little help from their pet friends, to make their way back home before Katie does.
Even though the plot was pretty low-stakes as far as dramatic pet adventures go (it was no Homeward Bound), I found myself feeling anxious for certain characters. I may be biased though, because animal movies just GET to me. My biggest nightmare is the idea of losing any single one of my beloved pets, so when Max and Duke go missing, I was on the edge of my seat wanting them to get home safely.
The Secret Life Of Pets is lighthearted and fun, with a few darker moments that some kids may be sensitive to (certainly none of the kids in my theatre). Everyone in the cinema I was in seemed to enjoy the film, adults and children alike. Like any good cartoon, there is the occasional adult joke that will fly over the heads of “innocents”.
I would recommend this movie for anyone who would like to enjoy a casual romp that won’t leave you feeling as emotionally drained as a Pixar movie.
Now I’m going to go make sure my pets are behaving themselves.