THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS
FILM REVIEW - THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS
Running Length: 90 minutes
Directed by: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
Cast: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate
Written by: Brian Lynch, Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
Cinematography: Terry Stacey
Release Date: 24th June 2016
The jokes veer close enough to the edge to keep parents amused.
The Despicable Me movies and subsequent spin-offs have given animation studio Illumination a hit rate unseen beyond the Disney/Pixar fence. But while profitable, the studio’s non-Minions efforts (The Lorax, Hop) have not been critical hits. This might account for the pre-feature short (Mower Minions – mildly amusing) cementing the link between The Secret Life of Pets and the yellow, gibberish-spouting cash cows.
Max (Louis C.K.) leads a blissful existence in his Manhattan apartment. Spoiled by night, Max spends the day with the other pets in the building. When his owner arrives home with Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a shaggy dog the size of a small, hornless yak, Max’s top dog position is threatened. A scheme to lose this big dog in the Big Apple goes wrong, leaving both Max and Duke lost and far from home.
The animated “pets in peril” theme has been done to death, but The Secret Life of Pets adds enough anarchic irreverence to keep things interesting.
Little details like a Hispanic soap opera called “La Passion de la Passion” or a tattoo parlour practice pig guarantee that there’s always some surreal gem waiting. Set against the backdrop of a gloriously garish New York, it’s smart, charming and consistently funny.
The voice work of both C.K. and Stonestreet is a tad underwhelming, but the rest of the supporting vocal cast make up for their shortcomings. The clear standout is Albert Brooks’ performance – his turn as Tiberius the conflicted predator hawk is an absolute joy. And it must be said that listening to Kevin Hart play a psychotic white bunny called Snowball is far more enjoyable than watching him.
The Secret Life of Pets does more than enough to keep younger viewers entertained. With the odd reference to the hipster effect on property values and nods to Jurassic Park 2 and Some Like it Hot, the jokes veer close enough to the edge to keep parents amused too. Dog-lovers will find it irresistible.