Review: ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ Is Furry Family Fun
“The Secret Life of Pets” will connect you to your furry friends in a delightfully, humorous way.
We’ve been taken into the minds of humans with Inside Out and with “The Secret Life of Pets,” we get a focus on the thought process of our favorite non-human companions. Their actions may be a mystery to us, but this film attempts to provide logic to those actions in a comedic way while taking audiences on an animated adventure across New York City. But was this animated family film the insightful adventure we were hoping for? Let’s find out.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, etc.) – 3.5
“The Secret Life of Pets” has been on my radar for some time now. I’m an avid dog lover and the premise of the film piqued my interest. The idea of verbalizing these pet oddities had me quite engaged and smiling throughout the film. The explained excitement behind bringing a ball to their owner, the determined waiting game, and even the battles for affection all carried a pleasant nuance. Unfortunately this plot device that I loved so much, was far too short-lived. The beginning of the film focused on these elements but the story quickly evolved into a more singular adventure revolving around Max (Louis C.K.) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet). While the adventure was engaging, I think there was a lot of creative potential lost by choosing this path. I longed-for a more confined story that unraveled the mysteries of pets in their domestic environment, so when things quickly switched gears, I was a bit disappointed. With that said, my disappointment was more of a testament to my own unfulfilled expectations rather than the film itself. The story was still fun, just not on the level I had hoped for.
Despite that minor disappointment, the story did lead to the development of some interesting characters. The main character, Max, was voiced surprisingly well by Louis C.K. With his foundation of comedy typically relying on dark and drab subjects, he managed to fit right into the jovial, energetic persona of an active dog. His counterpart Duke was also a welcomed addition to the cast with “Modern Family’s” Eric Stonestreet voicing the character. He brought that same lovable charisma to the character completing the film’s dynamic duo. Jenny Slate lent her voice to the small but determined dog Gidget. The best thing about her character were the surprises. She generally had a very casual demeanor but once she gets involved in the city-wide adventure, she captivates as a true underdog.
But with so many characters and so many voices, there was one cast member that outshined the rest. With “The Secret Life of Pets” being his professional debut to voiceover work, Kevin Hart proved himself to be more than adequate. As a loud but small bunny named Snowball, the role fit right in with Kevin Hart’s stage persona. As the antagonist, he established the obstacles needed to progress the film. But more importantly, his passionate, comedic contributions brought Snowball to life more than any other character. His performance now has me excited for his other upcoming voice role in “Captain Underpants.”
But of course we cannot discuss an animated film without mentioning the animation quality. The industry has improved as a whole in this realm and “The Secret Life of Pets” is a testament to that. It wasn’t as fluid and vibrant as a Pixar film, but still aesthetically pleasing nonetheless. The colors were rich, the character’s were adequately personified through rich expressions, and overall the film was just visual eye candy.
Overall “The Secret Life of Pets” didn’t meet my personal expectations for story but was still rich in cinematic quality.
Entertainment Value – 4
With fluid animation, dynamic characters, and a fun-filled story, “The Secret Life of Pets” is a film that most of the family can enjoy. For pet owners, you’ll appreciate the creative details of pet behavior a bit more, but the enjoyment is universal. There’s a good mix of humor and themes that adults and children can enjoy together.
Reiterating what was said above, I do wish they would have taken more of a creative risk with this film, but the story was still adequate enough to produce an entertaining adventure. There are many familiar and unfamiliar areas of New York City that are explored making the journey itself engaging. Along with the change in venue comes the introduction of new characters that each have their own integral part to the progression of the story. I enjoyed this very much because it made each moment and interaction significant rather than just being entertainment fluff.
After the film ended, I thought it was a very fulfilling experience. I was entertained throughout most of the film with very few moments of lag.
Re-Watchability – 3.5
I will definitely watch this film again and will probably buy it when it’s available for home viewing. But while I may watch it once or twice more, I’m going to confess and say this will most likely be background noise for my dogs when I’m away (yes…I’m one of those people, haha). For those of you with children of the human variety, I would also recommend this as background noise for them as well.
This isn’t going to be at the top of my list for animated go to films, but there are many elements that will bring me back to “The Secret Life of Pets.”
4K Blu-ray Features
“The Secret Life Of Pets” shines on the 4K Blu-ray version. The colors are more vibrant, the picture is crisp, and it’s visually stunning overall. I enjoyed the features on this disc as it included the multiple animated shorts and even a “How To” on making an animated film. Check out the full video unboxing below.
- Entertainment Value
"The Secret Life of Pets" is universal family entertainment although it didn't fully meet my expectations. The animation is rich, the characters are engaging, and the voice work is spot on for most. It's a film worth seeing although I think it didn't live up to its creative potential.
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