Movie Review: 'The Secret Life of Pets'

Movie Review: 'The Secret Life of Pets'

This animated feature offers an answer to pet owners who wonder what their pets do all day while they’re away. You could solve that with a nanny cam, but it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun as seeing this. From the team that created “Despicable Me,” this animated film hits the mark on almost every level.

Technically, it includes some great animation with everything from the New York skyline to the underground sewer system serving as a backdrop for the action, not to mention a variety of differently furnished apartments in the high rise where the central cast live. Max (Louis C.K.) is a terrier mix devoted to his mistress Katie (Ellie Kemper). They do everything together, and each day as she goes off to work, he waits by the door for her to come home.

The movie cleverly opens as all the pet owners in the building go off to work and say goodbye to their pets, who patiently wait until the door is shut before taking off down the fire escape to visit friends, raid the fridge, watch TV, or change the classical music on the stereo to classic rock.

It’s funny and cute and introduces the main cast of characters including Gidget, a Pomeranian voiced by comedienne Jenny Slate; Chloe, a really chubby, droll cat voiced by Lake Bell; a hyper pug, Mel (Bobby Moynihan); and Buddy, a laid-back dachshund voiced by Hannibal Buress. By the end of the day, all pets await their master’s return and to Max’s horror, Katie comes home with a new friend, Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a big sloppy rescue pup to keep Max company.

They definitely have issues establishing who is the alpha dog until a series of mishaps lead them on an adventure to stop Snowball (Kevin Hart), a crazed bunny who, along with his gang, is out for revenge against pet owners who casually dispose of their pets — mostly down the drain. Called the “Flushed Pets,” they hate humans and incited by Snowball, they are plotting to make life miserable for all.

At only 90-minutes long, this is crammed full of characters and action. The pace is furious with dog catchers running around, Snowball and his henchmen getting in the way, and a band of the main characters out to find Max and Duke, led by Tiberius (Albert Brooks), a red-tailed hawk.

It rocks along nicely for about an hour, but the last 30 minutes start to drag, not that any of the children sitting around me noticed.

As with a lot of animated features, this is for kids and grown-ups alike, so it was no surprise that the biggest audience laugh came when one of the characters describes a particular odor as “poo poo with a little ca-ca.” The kids weren’t the only ones laughing out loud.