I’m not one to really gawk at the vocal cast of an animated film, but Illumination Entertainment (of Despicable Me fame) sure knows how to pick them.
In their sixth motion picture, the studio gives us a peek at what our pets do when we’re not home. It begins with Max (Louis C.K.), a small dog who loves his owner more than life itself. He stands in front of the door all day just waiting for her to come home. Then one day, she does, but brings in with her a very large dog named Duke (Eric Stonestreet).
You may only get the jokes and the high-flying emotions if you have pets of your own. Luckily, most of America does in one way or another. Anyone who does knows how unbelievably ridiculous they can be sometimes. And this movie goes the route of exploiting that a bit, without actually trying to make sense of it–because, what fun would that be?
Some may be bothered by the fact that it borrows from the premise of Toy Story–and a couple other Pixar gems. I’m not one of those. It’s a smart move. And besides, there’s much more to the story than just a simple two-misunderstood-individuals-journeying-home-together angle. There are multiple plots working at once.
We don’t just see Max and Duke trying to find their way back, but also a gang of Max’s friends setting out to find him–led by a paralyzed blind dog and a spoiled rich dog who longs to profess her love for Max.
There are some moments where it becomes very dark, but the issues come with how it handles those dark moments. It has a couple of chances–both of which it fails miserably.
The energy never lets up, and that plays as more of a good thing than bad in The Secret Life of Pets. Your kids will love it and the laughter is pretty consistent from start to finish. It may not have the same emotional punch of Despicable Me, but it knows how to make us laugh, thoroughly showcasing the world that it wants us to see.