The Secret Life of Pets Review
RYAN: This movie received one of the largest responses – ever – for entries to my movie club. I wish I could have accommodated more people but those who did attend had a great time. And I loved this – such a feel good movie. From the makers of the Despicable Me movies. There’s also a cute Minions short before it. My favorite part was the first ten minutes that was pure genius. It could stand alone, like the beginning of the movie Up as it’s own short. That’s where you see all the best stuff between the pets and humans — the nature and behavior of our pets and and the way we imagine they think, what we project anyway.
CHUCK: You haven’t seen the trailer, have you?
RYAN: No. But then the film’s story turns into a buddy action-comedy between two dogs and that’s less interesting but still very enjoyable. Again, it’s a feel good movie – it’s uplifting. And the music is so well used throughout. I walked out beaming.
CHUCK: I enjoyed it as well. Illumination does a great job stylizing their films and the voice talent here is great. I’m such a fan of Jenny Slate and she’s wonderful in this. And you can’t get better comedic performances that Kevin Hart, Louis C.K., Ellie Kemper. I did find this skewing a bit younger than, say, Finding Dory, which really is more for all ages. There’s not a layered message for adults here. It’s not Toy Story 3 or Wall-E.
RYAN: It does not have the depth of Inside Out or Zootopia, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a fun action film with animals. But it’s not as young-skewing as Cars or Minions. It’s in the middle. And I’m so excited Dr. Banks, my veterinary associate, joins us for this review as well. Becky – what’s your impression?
BECKY: As a film, it’s adorable. I was teary and it made me wanna go home and hug my dog and cats and never leave the house again or look them in the eyes on the way out the door. It was lovely. As a vet, I was troubled because I knew you’d ask me for that perspective.
RYAN: Yes, in terms of animal behavior, what did you think?
BECKY: As for animal behavior and mannerisms, they did a great job – and that was part of what made this movie so fun. But they could have gone even deeper and funnier. I was annoyed, however, by the dentition. Their teeth would never have that alignment. But that’s being picky.
RYAN: (laughs) They were speaking English, too.
BECKY: But I have to note that my heart was aching when we saw the discarded pets, who, as in real life, greatly outnumbered the pets who have a loving home with all of their needs met. The harsh reality is that there are so many animals that we have failed miserably because they should not have been domesticated or exploited as pets in the first place.
RYAN: That’s a very good point and of course I didn’t even consider that while watching. I was just all up in the fantasy of it but you’re totally right. That is a real world, heartbreaking problem.
BECKY: I loved the animation and how the opening scene made New York look amazing.
RYAN: It’s a bit derivative of Toy Story, in the sense that the toys come alive when the people leave and this is about what the pets do when the people leave; also the toys that are left behind or unwanted.
CHUCK: And there is derivative imagery in certain moments from Jurassic Park 2 and The Abyss. It might be unintentional though. But none of the younger generation has seen those for a frame of reference.
BECKY: I would have liked to see and explore a bit more about the behaviors of pets like the trailer and title suggests.
RYAN: I agree – that would have made it even better. It detours to a genre story quickly. But it’s a fun, light movie that will elevate your mood – it’s a love letter to good pet owners out there. It’s a quick 90 minutes and great for all ages.