Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Secret Life of Pets Movie Review

The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
Rent The Secret Life of Pets on Amazon Video
Written by: Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch (written by), Simon Rich (additional characters created by)
Directed by: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney (co-director)
Starring:  Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Ellie Kemper, Albert Brooks, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress
Rated: PG

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!

Max is a dog whose life is upended when his owner gets another dog, and then they both get lost in the park.

This is an attempt to make Toy Story (1995) with pets. It includes the typical tropes related to pets, pets getting lost, and pets that live in the sewers. It's formulaic, resulting in a movie that's not comedic or touching enough to stand out.
Skip it.

The first few scenes rely on what pets do when their owners leave, like a prim poodle that listens to heavy metal. This is the premise

Max is upset when his owner gets a new dog, Duke. Max endeavors to get rid of Duke and in the process they both get lost. This is a bit of The Odd Couple (1968) with two pets that don't get along slowly forming a friendship, and Homeward Bound (1993) as they struggle to get back home.

Things go from bad to worse when they're attacked by cats and end up in the sewers. At one point animals steal a bus. Max has a big moment where he risks his life to save Duke, but it feels perfunctory. The story feels like it was conceived by synthesizing the typical story beats from other animated films.

This movie feels like it follows a checklist of how to make an animated pets movie. Zootopia (2016) (read my review) has proven that kids movies don't have to be bland and predictable. It can entertain both children and adults. 

The best part of the movie is towards the end after the pets have made it back to their respective homes and greet their owners who are none the wiser to their adventures. It's a small moment that reinforced how much the pets care for their owners. A moment like this between Max and Duke should have occurred, instead Max saves Duke because the movie needs a big finale.

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