Have you ever wondered what your pets do all day while you are at work or otherwise away from the house?
The folks at Illumination Entertainment, which created “Despicable Me,” took a run at answering that question with “The Secret Life of Pets,” and what they came up with is fun for the whole family.
The story follows a terrier named Max (voiced by Louis C.K.) who’s comfortable life with his adoring owner Katie (voiced by Ellie Kemper) is upended when she brings home a stray named Duke (voiced by Eric Stonestreet). Max doesn’t like Katie’s attention being diverted from him, especially by a huge, hairy beast like Duke.
The two instantly become enemies and Max attempts to get Duke kicked out of the house, but all of this is short lived because when Duke retaliates while at the dog park with their walker, they end up being chased by bumbling animal control officers.
Hilarity ensues as they escape, but the differences they had with each other are fading and quickly go away all together as they encounter more peril, this time in the form of a cute little bunny with homicidal tendencies, in their attempt to get home.
That bunny is named Snowball (voiced by Kevin Hart), and he is building an army of abandoned pets, a cult called “The Flushed Pets” to take revenge on humans. At first he takes Max and Duke into his folds, but when he finds out they aren’t abandoned like they said they were. Snowball vows revenge on them as well, so the two new friends begin working together to escape Snowball and his motley crew, which includes a tattooed pig and other discarded animals.
Another encounter with animal control leads to Dukes capture, so Max sets out to rescue him.
Of course, unbeknownst to him, Max’s friends are also looking for him, led by Gidget, a white Pomeranian who has a crush on Max (voice by Jenny Slate). This rescue party includes overweight tabby cat Chloe (voiced by Lake Bell), hyperactive pug Mel (voiced by Bobby Moynihan), laid-back dachshund Buddy (voiced by Hannibal Buress), and lone bird Sweet Pea (voiced by Tara Strong). Gidget even convinces red-tailed hawk Tiberius (voiced by Albert Brooks) to help.
There are touching moments between Max and Duke, including a raid on a sausage factory to get some food and Duke telling Max about his past, but the laughs rarely stop as the movie quickly reaches its end, which finds all the animals back with their owners, Max and Gidget being in love, Max and Duke being friends, and even Snowball finding the love of a small girl who finds him and decides she’s taking him home.
The storyline was rather predictable. Adults will go into it pretty much knowing how it will all turn out. However, this movie isn’t one you should go see for the inventive plot.
No. You should go for the comedy and the animation.
The jokes and slapstick comedy didn’t stop. They might have slowed down a bit when Duke talked about his previous owner, but it was a momentary lapse in the laughs.
The animation was superb. The animals were talking and demonstrating human-like facial expressions, but the animators managed to do this without it becoming weird and the animals losing their animal traits.
“The Secret Life of Pets” is rated PG. It has a run time of 90 minutes, and it is a fast-paced 90 minutes. The action and comedy speed the shallow storyline along. Children of all ages will love it, and so will the adults taking them.