The Secret Life of Pets is a fun, but mostly derivative animated film that shows us what our pets really get up to when we’re away.
When the small terrier Max (Louis C.K.) receives a new canine brother in Duke (Eric Stonestreet), he jealously forges a way to take Duke out of the picture, inadvertently sending them on a high-stakes adventure that will ultimately bring them closer together.
The film comes from the production company that brought us Despicable Me/Minions and the filmmakers have recaptured some of the magic that those films brought to the world, however have failed to offer an original and unique story – it’s your typical buddy-adventure film we’ve seen time and time again. Where the aforementioned films gave us characters that have now transcended the cinematic universe they were created in, it’s safe to assume the characters in this film won’t have the same lasting effect.
The performances are all great as far as the voice acting is concerned, with the chubby cat Chloe (Lake Bell) and the devious bunny rabbit Snowball (Kevin Hart) stealing the show. The rest of the characters in the film all have their unique charm applied to serve the story and there is a character there that’s relatable to all types of different viewers, although on the whole, none of these characters have the potential to become instant classics, like the Minions did after their first outing in Despicable Me.
The Secret Life of Pets shines in its animation. The art direction and animation style of the characters and settings are amazing, with beautifully rich and vivid visuals. The animators perfectly captured the nuances of each of the different species of animals featured in the film, while meeting the style set out by the film’s creators. When you consider the designs from a merchandising standpoint, you’d imagine the studio behind this film will strike gold once the toys are out and the kids are hounding their parents for them.
That’s what this film is all about – pleasing its young target market. Even though it’s a by-the-numbers animated film, that doesn’t stop it from being a fun, well-directed, gorgeous looking film that’s humorous and charming. The film makes for a great family film and should offer parents a nice escape from their parental duties if they decide to take their kids out to see it. Adults, but more specifically pet owners, will also find this enjoyable, especially when they see the same (or similar) pet as their own, represented in a cute and fuzzy fashion on the screen, doing the things they’ve become accustom to with their own furry little friends.
The Secret Life of Pets can’t match the same depth you can find in most Pixar films, and putting any story issues aside, the film is a solid enough entry into the cute-animal sub-genre of animated films, that can be enjoyed by young and old.
The Secret Life of Pets became the highest grossing non-Disney original animated film of 2016, grossing $726 million worldwide.