film review

Review | The Secret Life of Pets – 2016

Always wanted to know what your pets are doing after you’ve left the house? The secret Life of Pets shows exactly that! In particular we learn about the life of Max, Katie’s dog. Max really enjoys his life as a ‘single’ pet. The best moment of the day is therefore when Katie returns home after a hard day of work. But this changes drastically when Katie’s takes home a stray dog, called Duke. Duke is a very big dog, which is partly the reason why the tiny terrier Max dislikes Duke. But after a walk gone out of control, they have to work together to find their home back. Max and Duke end up in an adventure where they have to deal with a mean bunny and his companions. Luckily Max has a lot of pet friends who can help them.

After the success of  Despicable Me and Mininons,  Illumination Entertainment comes with a new hilarious project: The Secret Life of Pets. It doesn’t come as a surprise that this animated film focuses on animals. With the exception of Katie we only get to see the legs of the human characters, which made me think of the old cartoons. The actors who voices the animals are not the most familiar names, but that doesn’t matter. The voices all fit perfectly with their character, but Kevin Hart as the mean bunny is the most amazing one! Comedienne Kevin Hart voices Snowball who at first looks like the most sweetest bunny you have ever seen. However, it doesn’t take long before you realize Snowball is actually a true criminal who declares war on all human beings and his own army in the sewer. This contrast makes Snowball the most interesting character of the film. 

The two lead characters of the film are Max and Duke. Max is a little terrier whose life evolves around his boss Katie. Louis C.K. voices the somewhat cocky Max, who gives him a very charismatic voice as well. Max is also a bit spoiled, which shows when Duke walks into his safety and quiet life. Eric Stonestreet, mostly known from comedy series Modern Family, voices the gigantic dog Duke. Duke is a stray dog who is quickly fed up with Max’ behavior. Which ends up in a normal day at the park gone mad. Duke en Max have to forget their feelings and start working together if they want to return home safely.

Mean stray cats, a pig with tattoos, a crocodile – because apparently crocodiles live in the sewers of New York – and a misleading bunny. Max and Duke are having a hard time during their mission, but luckily they find a sausage factory to rest. A hilarious scene which makes you think of the film Sausage Party, although that film doesn’t have a link with Pets. The song in the background is also quite familiar. Max and Duke are having a blast with all the sausages on the song We go Together from the musical Grease. This song gives the scene and extra dose of humor, but it is unclear why the creators used this song in the first place, besides that it is an amazing song. With the use of special bus another film of the same studio gets secretly promoted. Well not really secretly because you can’t miss it. The soundtrack is composed by the very Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game), and sometimes the score feels like an old Tom & Jerry episode. Music that fits with all that is happening.

Besides the amazing score. The animations are terrific as well. Never ever was New York with its dirty stray cats and dogs, and the sewers so colourful. The difference between cats and dogs is shown very good. Dogs are the loyal friends of humans who keep waiting for their buddy to come home.the cats however are more relax and don’t really care about whether or not their boss will return. A deeper exploration about those difference could have made the movie even more interesting. With a runtime of one an half hour, the film is bot typically long. However, it does feel quite long. This is because the adventurous part is not that adventurous nor exciting. A short film with sketches might have worked  better, instead of a long movie where two dogs – who didn’t really liked each other – have to work together. If you think about it, the plot isn’t that original either,  and the best parts are the short sketches of the pets, which we saw in the trailer already. There quite some moments you can laugh, but not rolling on the floor laughing, and the jokes remain a bit silly as well. 

Friends are the best, is what Max realizes. Max’ neighbour from across the street Gidget (Jenny Slate) looks to be be the perfect savior in need. She calls upon the help of all other pets to find Max and Duke. This is the start of an adventure for them as well. The aspects friendship and adventure are the two main events of this film. And for those who still have energy left after watching the film and are into more stories about the pets, the Blu-ray offers three mini films. If you liked the film, you will like these as well!

The Secret Life of Pets gives an impression on how pets act while their bosses are not at home. The actual stories however focuses on the friendship and adventure between Max actually Duke. Two dogs who have to work together to find their way home and in the process become friends. On the other side, Max’ friends make a pact to save them and start their own adventure. Kevin Hart steals the show with his voice as Snowball the bunny, who is up to no good. But the other voices fit their character also very well. The soundtrack and animations give the film an amazing feeling. Never looked New York and its sewers so colorful! 


One thought on “Review | The Secret Life of Pets – 2016

  1. This film totally passed me by in theaters, so it was great to read up your review! Have you shared your writing on any film websites before? 🙂


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