Anthony's Film Review

The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

While the owners are away, these pets go on a wild and fun adventure...

If you own a pet, you may sometimes wonder what your beloved animal does all day when you leave your home in the daytime. You could, of course, install a video camera that will provide you video footage to answer that question, but chances are that they just hang around at home all day and the video will be fairly uninteresting to watch. For the sake of imagination, let's put aside that video capture idea and instead ponder on what pets do when the owners are away. Just picture in your mind what your dog, cat, bird, rodent, fish, etc. is doing at home when you leave for the day. Chances are that stepping away from realism allows you to imagine wild, crazy, and funny things about animals.

This is probably what inspired the writers of the animated film The Secret Life of Pets. The result is an enjoyable family film featuring animals such as a fat cat raiding a fridge, a poodle who actually likes heavy metal music instead of classical music, a bird who likes flight simulator video games, and a dog who enjoys television soap operas. But who says this kind of movie must be limited to domesticated household pets? The movie also features some less friendly animals outside a comfortable home, like a disgruntled bunny rabbit (inspired by Monty Python and the Holy Grail, perhaps?), aggressive alley cats, a predatory hawk, and a viper that has a role in a dangerous initiation ritual.

With such an ensemble, you can have a fun story to tell. In the beginning, we are introduced to the two main characters: a dog named Max and a bigger fatter dog named Duke. We get to see moments as Max enjoys his time with his owner before she leaves her apartment and before Duke is brought in as a second pet. We also see what other pets do typically when the owners leave. But the whole movie is not a collection of little moments at home. Rather, the movie centers on a plot in which so many unusual things happen during one single day, including the search for Max and Duke who go missing, encounters with animal control workers, the discovery of an underground society of mistreated and unwanted animals, traffic mayhem on the Brooklyn Bridge, and losing oneself in certain kind of food factory.

While the story is certainly engrossing and fun to follow, you cannot ignore some of the movie's touching moments. It's wonderful to see Max go from being resentful of Duke to loving him as a pal, especially when he learns about Duke's past. You will also find it delightful that some other animals are not as bad as they seem and that they can get along with each other just fine. Of course, nothing tops the loving interactions between pets and their owners.

This is a film that anyone can enjoy, whether or not you own pets or like animals in real life. It has humor, heart, and fun that is all held together with a cohesive story of random events that lead to better things. It's also interesting that there are really no villains in this movie. Certain characters can be classified as antagonists at first, but in the end, everyone is just doing what is natural for the circumstances they're in. Overall, The Secret Life of Pets is an entertaining movie for the whole family (which includes pets, of course, since they're family, too).

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about The Secret Life of Pets, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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