G) The Secret Life of Pets
G for Some Scary Scenes, Cartoon/Animation Action
Running Time: 90 Minutes.
1 star out of 4.
Fresh off of the billion dollar success of last year's Minions, Illumination Entertainment returns with "The Secret Life of Pets." A film that explains what pets really do all day when we leave our houses. In the vein of Toy Story, the film explores the secret lives of these pets, and the friendships they have with one another, and the love they have for their owners. The writers behind the Secret Life of Pets, take a strong high concept idea and slap a muddled and confusing plot on top of it. This makes for one of the most draining film going experiences of the year. As viewers, we came to see the secret life of these pets, and essentially, we ended up getting another minions movie, where the minions are swapped out for pets. In all seriousness, these pets do not feel like real characters, they feel like cartoon cardboard cutouts of what you would expect them to be like. There is no sense of surprise or awe in this film.
If you have seen the first trailer, than you have essentially seen everything you need to see from this film. With The Secret Life of Pets, director Chris Renaud, who also helmed the two Despicable Me movies does a fine job at setting up the world of the pets in a "children's book looking" New York City, and everything somewhat works, until the owners leave and the pets start doing their shtick. It is not amusing nor surprising because it is exactly what you would expect them to do. There was so much potential for this film due to its premise and title alone, and the filmmakers could have taken it in so many unique and interesting directions, and yet, they slap on a standard lost in New York storyline and dull characters to take us along for the journey.
The main problem with this film is that we do not care about any of these pets, because they all come across as being extremely naive and obnoxious. The little bit of heart they show towards the climax of the film feels forced and comes out of nowhere and makes no sense, yet, as viewers, we are expected to just accept this. Louis C.K turns in a fine leading voice role as Max, the only character, we remotely care about. C.K leads an underwhelming voice cast of talented comedians who are all saddled with these nothing parts. Kevin Hart does his usual Kevin Hart thing that he does in every movie, and made for an extremely grating antagonist. Though the score and animation is top notch, and the opening tracking shot of New York City is breathtaking, The Secret Life of Pets, is a rare misfire from Illumination Entertainment and here's hoping that Sing (to be released in December) helps the European studio get back on track.