The Secret Life of Pets (2015)
Genre: Animated, Adventure, Family, Comedy
Starring: Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Albert Brooks, Eric Stonestreet, Louis C.K., Dana Carvey
The Secret Life of Pets is a movie about pets and what they do when we aren’t around (You’ve seen this before. Nothing secretive about it.) When I first saw the trailers, I was very excited for the film. I loved the cast, the film seemed filled with life and humor. I wanted this to be the animated film of the year (and it’s a solid year for animated films and it will continue to be). Some critics didn’t love the film, gave it average reviews, so that dropped my enthusiasm. Still, I had to watch it and get my own thoughts.
What I Didn’t Like-
This movie is unoriginal fluff and it knows it. It borrows heavily from Toy Story (which borrowed heavily from Brave Little Toaster) and Toy Story 2. I wish it took on a more original story or gave us characters we could embrace a bit more. However, it is a fluffy movie, filled with things you can enjoy, but then forget.
There are some distinct moments where it really could have landed something heartfelt. Make people cherish and love this movie for decades to come. However, they didn’t capitalize on it (I would have loved to have been behind the script of this one. So much glorious potential.) The film does have a couple low brow jokes for the youngest of viewers.
With few exceptions, none of the characters stood out to me. They felt fairly generic and shallow (I guess you can say they are merely Pets and shouldn’t have complex personalities.) The movie is largely mediocre. I don’t want to bash this endlessly because it isn’t awful, it just is average.
What I Did Like
The movie didn’t do anything spectacularly well, but it did go through the motions in a competent way. The musical score was decent, the animation was on par with what we expect from Illumination films. The characters weren’t well developed, but they worked for the 90 minutes of screen time they had. There was enjoyment to be had in this film. Some of the humor works. A couple times I laughed heartily. I found it entertaining in the most basic ways.
I loved the energy of Kevin Hart as Snowball, a militant white bunny. He was so animated that it was humorous. (Kevin Hart was perfect for that role.) The other standout for me was Gidget voiced by Jenny Slate. These two characters were the most interesting and provided the most laughs and entertainment throughout (though everyone had a moment which made me chuckle).
Conclusion- Secret Life of Pets is very colorful and has some high-energy characters that you will enjoy. The older crowd will be able to tolerate this movie in general, the young audience may enjoy it a bit more. (Adult approved, kid friendly), It was entertaining enough that if you are looking for a way to pass the time with younger audiences, this will do the trick. Try to catch it for matinee price. It lacks the emotional weight of a Pixar or even Dreamworks film.
Ladder-Where does it strike on my Illumination films ladder?
1-Despicable Me 2 (2013)
2-Despicable Me (2010)
3-Secret Life of Pets (2016) It’s good enough, but it had opportunities to be so much better.
The Lorax (2012)
2- Finding Dory
3- Kung Fu Panda 3
4- Secret Life of Pets