Review: The Secret Life of Pets

The Secret Life of Pets is a 2016 animated comedy about what pets do when their owners are away- by the studio who brought the world Despicable Me (Illumination), this story follows Max (played by Louis C.K.) as he tries to get rid of his new roommate, and gets lost and caught up in a world of strange owner-less animals around New York. As a huge fan of the first two Despicable Me movies, I genuinely was looking forward to seeing this film, and as a pet owner, I thought it could be funny to see what this studio thinks they could be up to when I’m gone, but I didn’t find too much to love about this film.

Note: as a lover of movies, I will never tell you not to watch a movie, and always keep in mind, that even if I didn’t love a movie, don’t let my review dissuade you; you should watch it for yourself to create your own opinion. I also do not enjoy writing reviews about movies that I didn’t like because sometimes, I don’t like the movie on the first viewing but I love it upon the second- movie watching experiences are often based on the setting and mood, instead of purely the film. I respect and envy filmmakers and I am not trying to insult anybody with a review such as this, but am just sharing my thoughts on the movie-watching experience that I’ve just had.

That being said… on with this review…

From the very first shot, it’s apparent that a lot of work and care went into the animation because the film looks beautiful. The animals, the scenery and the environment all look fantastic- the cartoonish animals blended with the more realistic world made for a fun experience while watching. It’s impossbile for me to deny that the film was attractive, and the pets were absolutely adorable- especially the bunny rabbit played by Kevin Hart. This movie definitely appeals to kids, and the parents who watch it along with them will say “aww” at least once or twice thanks to the animation. If all of the dialogue was taken out and dubbed, you might have one hell of a movie on your hands- but almost everything that came out of these characters mouths annoyed me. Other than maybe two or three chuckles that I had during the film (the biggest chuckle being from an Alien reference towards the end), all of the jokes fell flat for me… and that’s saying a lot because this was very much a joke-heavy film. I didn’t think the movie was funny, and I thought the characters were very unfunny… actually, I found them to be quite annoying. There were a few instances when a character would enter the film, say a “joke,” and then leave the film- and times like this agitated me because the jokes were never funny, the voices were always obnoxious and over-the-top, and they added absolutely nothing to the film. I’m not looking for a realistic film when I watch animated films, but having every single thing be obnoxiously “animated” isn’t always the best option. I’m not being a Scrooge here, Inside Out, How to Train Your Dragon, and Despicable Me are three of my favorite movies, but I found very little to enjoy in Pets.

The obnoxious nature of this film brings me to my next point: this film is hardly representative of the secret life of pets. If there was such thing as a click-bait movie title, this would be it. This film is simply one strange day in the life of a certain pet; after watching this movie, it’s apparent that this doesn’t happen every day, and it becomes obvious that the entire gag (or even simply a “skit”) of “the secret life of pets” is simply every single thing we saw in the trailer. The trailer is what The Secret Life of Pets was supposed to be, and the rest of the 80 minutes of the runtime is just unfunny dialogue with obnoxious voice acting, but incredible animation. The voice-acting by Louis C.K. as Max, Kevin Hart as Snowball, Jenny Slate as Gidget, and Albert Brooks as Tiberius were stand-outs for me… and then there were some that I wasn’t as much a fan of, but again, you can decide what you like and don’t like when you watch this film! If this is a dumpster fire, it’s the best looking fire I’ve ever seen, and it’s almost hard to say that I would never watch this again if I had to because the animation is so attractive. However, I cannot recommend a film with not much of a story, and very annoying characters simply because the film looks good- great looking films are a dime a dozen (actually, every film looks great nowadays) and that is not representative of quality in story.

This film is not a dumpster fire, however, and the few jokes I laughed at in the movie are ones that I think I will remember. I won’t say that you should see this movie, but I will never say that you shouldn’t see this movie. See it if you want to, but I’ll never watch it again of my own volition, unless it’s on in a room that I walk into, I’ll stick with Despicable Me. I found the movie to be very “click-baity,” and by that I mean that the title of the film, and the trailer, is really in no way representative of the entire film- which is obnoxious and ridiculous if you go in expecting what the title promises. Only a few of the dozens and dozens of jokes landed with me, and the rest I found to be quite annoying, along with many of the characters. The voice-acting by a few was fine, but many of the others irritated me to the point where I was not having fun with this movie. The animation was beautiful, and the animals, especially Snowball, were absolutely adorable, and this will fur sure entertain any kids who are viewing it. BUT, I’m going to give this film a yellow recommendation and a 2+/10, the film earning those two and a half points because of the jaw-dropping animation and the few chuckles that I got from it. The only reason this is a yellow recommendation instead of a red recommendation is because I have a hard time saying “don’t watch a movie,” and I could see how people could like this! This is reminiscent of Toy Story in a lot of ways, and while I found that element of it to be recycled, I think some people could appreciate it as an “homage,” so watch it for yourself and see! Again and as always, watch a film for yourself to create your own opinion, and don’t ever let anybody dissuade you from seeing or enjoying a movie! Thank you for reading and I’ll see you soon!

Published by Blake Carson Schwarz

Indiana University graduate in Media and Creative Writing. I love to write my own stories as well as experience the work of others. On this site, I post reviews, essays, and other fun posts that I hope you have as much fun reading and I have writing. Please share any comments you have, I'd be happy to hear what you think! *Never a critic, always a fan*

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