"Wait – Finding Dory is STILL no. 1 at the box office?! What does that mean for us?!" From L to R: Mel (Bobby Moynihan), Chloe (Lake Bell), Gidget (Jenny Slate), Norman (Chris Renaud), Tiberius (Albert Brooks) Sweet peaand Buddy (Hannibal Buress) in Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures' THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS. Credit: Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures. © 2016 Universal Pictures. All rights reserved.


KEY VOICE CAST MEMBERS: Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Albert Brooks, Steve Coogan, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress and Dana Carvey

WRITER(S): Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch

DIRECTOR(S): Chris Renaud, co-directed by Yarrow Cheney


HERE'S THE STORY: Ever wonder what your pets do when you close the door and head out on your day without them? Well, The Secret Life of Pets attempts to give you an answer by introducing us to a group of dogs, cats and other common companions living in the same apartment building in New York City. There's Gidget (Jenny Slate), a perfect poofball of a dog; Chloe (Lake Bell), the definition of a fat cat; Mel (Bobby Moynihan), an easy-to-please pug; sarcastic dachshund Buddy (Hannibal Buress); an adventurous budgie named Sweetpea and Norman (Chris Renaud), a lost guinea pig that roams the pipes trying to remember which apartment is home. 

There's also Max (Louis C.K.), a terrier mix who loves living with his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper). Together, they have the perfect existence as she loves him and he loves her and it's just great. Then, one day out of the blue, Katie comes home with Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a massively shaggy brown rescue dog that immediately turns Max's comfortable existence upside down. Then, as fate would have it, Max and Duke find themselves lost without their dog tags, making them the targets of the local animal control office ... And eventually the target of the "Flushed Pets," an underground society of castaway animals led by Snowball (Kevin Hart), their pugnacious rabbit of a leader. 

But once Gidget learns of her would-be boyfriend's disappearance, the hunt is on to save Max (and Duke) for certain doom ... All before all their respective owners return home for the day. 

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Pet owners; kids who like cute animals; people who enjoyed Finding Dory.

WHO WON'T (OR SHOULDN'T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? Anyone coming to the movie expecting it to be a full-on comedy; those who don't like slow-paced animated movies

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? A film that is not what it is appears to be, The Secret Life of Pets has a secret of its own that audience are going to find out this weekend: It's more dramedy than comedy ... And in some parts, feels a like it has a little stale crust on an otherwise decent cinematic sandwich.

At its onset, The Secret Life of Pets looks like it's going to be a very funny outing exploring all the things that our beloved animal companions do when we leave for the day. But then, once Max and Duke have their odd couple pair up and then get lost in the city, it turns into a standard animal-trying-to-find-their-way-home story that you've seen many times before. And it's not as funny as you'd hope; it's almost like an animated version of Louie with just a little less self-loathing with some funny moments thrown in to break up the monotony of Max and Duke pining about their plights. It's a bit heavy for a kids movie and kinda makes them a bit joyless for too long in the viewing experience.

On a positive note, the humorous scenes (most of which have been featured in the film's respective trailers) are nice diversions from the main storyline of Max and Duke trying to return home and there is a nice little montage once Max and Duke enter a meat packing plant that taps more into what the film could have been. Likewise, Kevin Hart is good at keeping things light as Snowball, the confident but misguided leader of the Flushed Pets before the film gets into its VERY Finding Dory-like climatic moments. 

But other than being more dramatic than one might expect based on the trailer, the film goes away from what would have been a very interesting premise before breaking down into a standard "lost animal(s) need to find their way home" story. Whereas there are a lot of ways the film's creators could have gone with that concept, instead, they went the safe and simple route with a literal "dog finds a home" story. The Secret Life of Pets has some laughs, some heart and a nice ending ... But it's not exactly as enjoyable a journey as it could have been.

And that's a doggone shame – because the true secret life of pets would have made for a really good public film if they had done that. 



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