The Secret Life of Pets

                    review by Bobby Blakey

Ever since trailers hit for The Secret Life of Pets it has stood out as one to be the next animated hit if for no other reason than the hilarious realism of the pet’s behaviors. As with most animated films this one sports a great voice cast including Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Albert Brooks, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, and Steve Coogan, but does it offer up more than just seeing what the pets do when we are away or should it be kept on a tight leash?

The Secret Life of Pets follows a Manhattan apartment building, Max's life as a favorite pet is turned upside down, when his owner brings home a sloppy mongrel named Duke. They have to put their quarrels behind when they find out that an adorable white bunny named Snowball is building an army of lost pets determined to take revenge on them. The opening of the film keeps everything we have seen in the trailers intact and even after seeing it so many times it is still funny. From there the film takes it up a notch telling the story to our lead character Max and his history with his owner. This section of the film is easily my favorite as it is not only heartwarming, but captures nearly the exact same life story and situations featuring our own dog. From there the story expands beyond just the silliness of their alone time into a bigger adventure that does deliver, but there are some missed opportunities. There are numerous times that they try to inject some heart here and there, but outside of the generic nature it never really packs the punch similar to the opening of films like Up. There is a specific portion of the story featuring Duke that could have been a powerful tear inducing moment, but it gets rushed in the end to get back to the fun and action.

The voice cast are all perfect with each of them bringing their own unique voices to their characters. Louis C.K. is perfect here with his often monotone style giving Max the innocence and likeability needed to make you care about his situation. The real standout here has to be Kevin Hart whose fast talking style perfectly blends with the manic behavior of Snowball. This group of characters are a perfect blend of fun and ridiculous that you will not help being able to love them all. There is a great mesh of both average pets and unconventional bringing them together to give the film a feeling of variety. When the film is funny it is laugh out loud funny, but not every joke manages to work. This is a film that opted to step outside of the realm of pulling at the heart strings along with the fun and just go for the comedy gags which keeps it from ever being the true standout it could have been.

In the end this film has a few missteps, but as whole it still delivers a great fun movie for the whole family that will no doubt find its audience. It is not one of those struggles to sit through for parents like some as it offers up some jokes only they will get and a complete overall product that will work for everyone.  In addition to the film this release includes some fun bonus content including 3 mini-movies and a ton of featurettes taking you behind the fur of bringing this fun film to life. Take a peek at The Secret Life of Pets available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Home Entertainment. 

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