The Secret Life of Pets (2016) Movie Review: Secretly Good

By: Reel 127 (Two Beers) –

I’ll admit, when the first trailer for this movie came out last year I was not at all impressed. I remember deciding then not to see The Secret Life of Pets. After that trailer finished I watched the Minions movie and still have not recovered from the trauma. But as they released more material for Pets and there was a trailer that actually showed the story my attitude began to change. I eventually decided to watch the movie upon its release and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

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Also, a Minions short starts off this movie.

You have been warned.

The Secret Life of Pets shows what pets do when their owners go away for work each day. One pet, Max, has a new “brother” named Duke. The two dogs wish the other was gone and both end up lost in New York. It’s up to the other pets to save Max as he and Duke survive and bond together.

A Toast

This a very fun adventure flick. I’ll admit that the set-up is pretty overdone at this point. “New character enters main character’s life, main character doesn’t like them, and tries to get rid of them, and both get lost.” Once you get past this, though, the movie takes off on a pretty good route. The story has enough twists and turns to it that there were a couple of things I didn’t expect to happen. I was very pleased by the voice cast as well. I mentioned in my Angry Birds review that most of the voice cast for that movie didn’t bring life to the characters. On this movie I really felt like these were characters and not celebrities reading lines. The only voice that might seem off to people will probably be Jenny Slate as Gidget. Only because her voice is pretty distinct and people will remember her from the recent Zootopia. I didn’t even realize that Albert Brooks (Marlin from Finding Dory) was one of the main characters until the credits rolled.

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Pictured: the guy from Broadcast News (right), the annoying girl from Bob’s Burgers (left).

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As I mentioned, the set-up for this movie is an overdone trope. Apart from this there is really only one other glaring plot trope in the story. At one point Max takes Duke to his old owner’s home in hopes of reuniting the two. The owner is no longer there and Duke gets mad, even accusing Max of trying to get rid of him. It bugs me when things like this show up in animated films, because it seems to happen more often in this genre. There is a belief that there needs to be an “all is lost moment” where maybe the two protagonists won’t make it through this together. But the two were at odds at the start of the movie and have bonded over the course of the story. Having Duke get mad at Max feels uncharacteristic by the time it happens and is just forced for the sake of formula.

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Kevin Hart wasn’t even the annoying part of this movie, believe it or not.

Verdict

This is a pretty good animated film that I think will be one of the stand-outs when we look back on 2016. The Secret Life of Pets can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. I highly recommend checking this out while it is still in theaters.

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The Secret Life of Pets (2016) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: for every name in the credits you didn’t realize was involved with this movie.

Take a Drink: every time Gidget pines over Max.

Take a Drink: whenever Snowball remembers Ricky.

Do a Shot: when the poodle from the trailer starts rocking out to metal.

About Reel 127

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