Children’s animations are absolutely dominated by Disney Pixar and DreamWorks nowadays, and so it’s refreshing when one comes through that isn’t created by one of the big two. Having competition like that is hard though, but ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ has such a great premise that it manages to pull it off.
Max the dog (Louis C.K.) lives a wonderful life at home with his owner, Katie (Ellie Hemper), whom he patiently waits for everyday to come home from work. She is his life and he hers, until one day she comes back home with Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a rescue dog who Max doesn’t take too kindly to. After nearly getting put in the pound by accident, the two dogs find themselves having to work together to stop evil bunny Snowball (Kevin Hart) who is intent on bringing down the humans as revenge.
It’s quite a common plot, but for a kids’ film it works really well as it promotes getting along with everyone. It’s also a story that a lot of kids can relate to, and so it felt engaging to watch straight away. The plot seems a little random at the start, with it seemingly jumping all over the place, but once the action gets started properly then it becomes easy to follow.
One thing I thought was great was just how accurate the pet habits were – anyone who has a cat or a dog will find this film entertaining. Some of the characters are really funny, and there’s also a lot of exciting and perilous action scenes to keep the kids glued to the screen. I also thought the humour was really good – sometimes kids’ films only contain kids humour, yet this one felt a little more balanced for both children and adults alike. There is a lot of cartoon violence shown, but it’s not overdone and I didn’t feel that it was too much for young children considering the moral of the story.
Unfortunately it did seem a bit flat in parts – the exciting bits were great, but after a while I found myself not quite as engaged as I had been at the start. I’m not sure why really – the characters didn’t lose their charm or anything, but it just started to feel a bit forced. I also felt like the relationship between Max and Duke was strange at points - it was as if the fact that they hated each other was conveniently forgotten about so that the plot could be moved forward, which meant some scenes were lacking in the tension that you would have expected. The majority of the scenes were good though (including a particularly surreal scene involving a sausage factory).
There’s plenty of evoked emotion for the film though (some happy, some sad) and it all ends nice and positively, despite things looking rather grim towards the final scenes. The characters are all very lovable, with a range of different personalities for the kids to identify with. The music is also great – it has a Monsters Inc. feel to it that makes it particularly enjoyable to watch.
Sure, it’s not Pixar or DreamWorks, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less entertaining. As with many films nowadays it’s not as good at the trailer makes it out to be, but it’s still a great watch whether young or old. 3/5
Secret Life Of Pets at CeX
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