Featuring Voices By: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Albert Brooks, Ellie Kemper
Directed By: Yarrow Cheney & Chris Renaud
Written By: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio, Brian Lynch
PG; 87 minutes
2.5 stars (out of 5)
Well, okay. The previews made this movie appear really cute, though even then I had to wonder how they were going to turn it into 90 minutes of entertainment. This is more the stuff of a running comic strip than a film.
Turns out they didn't do anything particularly clever or new.
The story is of Max (see, not even an original pet name), voiced by Louis C.K., and how he deals with having a new dog named Duke (Stonestreet) being adopted by his owner Katie (Kemper). Typical sibling displacement tale laid over the cute-funny of talking animals.
A few things bothered me. For one, though all the other pets can talk, the parakeet does not. The hawk talks, but the parakeet doesn't? Why?
And didn't all those animals come home dirty and smelly? They were in sewers, for Christ's sake. Why don't their owners notice?
Also, given the current tension in our country, the role of Kevin Hart as a gangster-like, gore-loving, vengeful bunny who really just needs human love is borderline offensive yet played for laughs. Right up to his idolizing his fallen gang members.
The Secret Life of Pets is a largely predictable romp that has but a few moments of real fun, including Max and Duke hallucinating Grease's "We Go Together" in a sausage factory. But on the whole it's mediocre, lacking the cleverness and layered wit of other talking animal films like Zootopia. The truth is, kids aren't discerning and parents are looking for things to do over the summer, so as animation gets cheaper, stuff like this gets slapped together and still does well. Still, I'd sit up, beg, and roll over for some better writing.