The Secret Life of Pets
The Secret Life of Pets shows you the lives of your pets while you are away. But will you or your child enjoy this movie more?
What you think your pet does at home all day may surprise you. The Secret Life of Pets is an adorable comedy that hopes to dispel the belief that your dog waits at the door all day long for you to come home.
The Secret Life of Pets starts off by introducing you to a terrier named Max (Louis C.K.) and his owner Katie’s (Ellie Kemper). Max was found as a puppy and has been an only-puppy for his whole life. Life for Max as an only puppy is grand but the only issue that bothers him is where Katie goes every day for an extended period of time. Max sits by the door and waits for Katie to return. It is at this point you see the exact scene you saw in the first trailer a year ago.
This is an introduction scene to all different sorts of pets and a peek into what they do when the owners are not home. Definitely go check out the trailer for this scene again, it is a great scene and sells the movie very well. This scene is effective at suspending the audience’s disbelief by playing into our guilt of leaving our animals at home all day. We don’t want our pets to have a boring life and The Secret Life of Pets quickly engages your hope that pets all around the world have fulfilling friendships and hobbies. As an adult, I’m definitely reading too deeply into this scene; this intro will encapsulate children’s imagination even faster and it sets the movie up very well (even though we have already seen it).
After the antics of the day and meeting all the neighborhood pets, Katie comes home with another dog, Duke (Eric Stonestreet), to live and share the apartment with Max. As anyone who has ever owned animals (cat’s specifically) you know that animals don’t exactly like new creatures invading their space. And herein creates the plot for The Secret Life of Pets. Max, being the first dog in the family does not like this big shaggy dog invading his space, eating his food, and stealing his bed. Duke is no puppy either and he has something to say about it too. The fighting between these two end up getting them both lost and wrapped up in trouble with The Flushed Pet gang lead by the deceptively adorable white rabbit named Snowball (Kevin Hart). Max’s neighbor Gidget (Jenny Slate) rounds up the rest of the crew to bring the boys home.
So the story is definitely out there. But as I mentioned before, this movie starts off very well by guiding you into a fairy tale instead of a documentary. The idea of The Secret Life of Pets is to bring you into the mind of your pet, but for what it’s worth I have to say I wish they kept the story more compact. The gang story line introduces a lot of unique characters, but they also don’t add much of anything to the satisfaction of the movie either. Not every movie needs to have a moral assigned to it, but The Flushed Pets gang could have helped children realize discarding pets like an old cellphone isn’t a good thing. Personally, I think that was a missed opportunity, but the intended audience also will not notice the lack of depth either. There is a lot of personality in each character for children and parents to love.
The characters and script is very well thought out. The actors/actresses who were chosen to pay in The Secret Life of Pets were well selected and did a very good job. I felt connected with the animal far more than the voice behind it. Fortunately, there really isn’t much more to say about the acting because it was invisible and that is the way I like it.
The jokes and script were thoughtfully crafted. This movie does not feel like it is made by the same studio who gave us the painfully obnoxious Minions. There are few, if any obnoxious lines that would hurt after multiple repetitions. So if your child gets wrapped into this movie and wants to watch it multiple times a week, I think you would feel just fine letting them do so. A lot of the most satisfactory comedy, to me, was the physical actions associated with every pet. For example, the cat, Chloe (Lake Bell), frequently found a small container to sit in. If you are not a cat owner, know this, most cats sit in boxes that are far too small for them to seem comfortable. Chloe, early in the movie is seen sitting in a box easily half her size and she is happy as a cat. Zero mention was made of this small action, but it was hilarious to me because I can see my cat doing the exact same thing. A lot of small attention to detail is paid in The Secret Life of Pets, but I’m concerned that won’t be appreciated by the intended audience.
Therein lies the question I have for The Secret Life of Pets. There is no obnoxious humor and sometimes kids really like that. The jokes are very well written and the script is entertaining, but how much will your child care? I have no doubt in my mind that kids will go home after seeing this movie and play with their dog/cat a little bit more, but will the movie stick around in their mind for much longer? I think parents will love to take their kids to see this movie and should actively encourage it, but I fear the parents might like it more than the intended audience.