I watch several movie reviews online at YouTube, sometimes before I go to the film and sometimes after I go. The other day I saw the review of The Secret Life of Pets by Chris Stuckmann, and he made a comment about the film. He said that this film was a beat for beat copy of Toy Story. He gave several examples, I laughed and went on.
The thing was..once I was actually watching the movie, I couldn’t stop thinking about that comparison. Chris was spot on. This movie absolutely takes the story of Toy Story and adds pets.
Now, that does not mean that this film cannot be good. Let’s face it, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was pretty much a copy of Star Wars: A New Hope, and I loved The Force Awakens. There are only so many stories that can be told.
Putting the copying aside, The Secret Life of Pets is okay. It doesn’t suck, but it is not a great animated film.
Max (Louis C.K.) is a dog who has a great relationship with his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper). However, Max’s world is shaken when Katie brings home another dog from the pound named Duke (Eric Stonestreet). Max and Duke immediately have conflict over their place in Katie’s life and home. Then, circumstances happen and Max and Duke wind up on the sewers of New York with a group of discarded bad-ass animals led by a rabbit named Snowball(Kevin Hart). Max and Duke try to find their way home while learning to like each other.
So, yes, very much like Woody and Buzz.
The Secret Life of Pets is a cute film that I’m sure kids will enjoy a great deal. It has some funny moments, but nothing that really is memorable. Louis CK does a nice job as the voice of Max. Kevin Hart as Snowball was basically Kevin Hart, yelling all the time. He was okay with it, but a little of Hart went a long way here. Albert Brooks’ performance as the hawk Tiberius is a standout. Having the hawk eyeballing the other animals, trying to avoid the temptation to eat them was the funniest part of the film.
I also enjoyed the dog Gidget (Jenny Slate). She was out to help save her fiend and possible love Max. Gidget had an interesting relationship with Tiberius as well. Chloe (Lake Bell the fat cat is portrayed extremely well, as most of the cats are throughout the film. Of course, I am a cat person, so I enjoy the animal’s rotten attitude.
The animation here is not bad, by any stretch, but, much like the overall film, it is not memorable either.
There was also an animated short ahead of the movie featuring the Minions, but I did not like it much at all. There were only a few funny bits from that short and most of the parts are predictable.
Created by Illumination, The Secret Life of Pets is not a terrible time at the theater. It is okay. I thought this was good. Of course, it was better when it was called Toy Story.