Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Reel Snippet – The Secret Life of Pets


Synopsis: Max (Louie C.K.) had a great thing going with his owner Katie (Ellie Kamper) in Manhattan. He spends all day waiting for her to come home, an oddity in his neighborhood where the other pets take advantage of their owners’ absences to do their own thing and have reign over their apartments. But when Katie brings home a new, larger dog named Duke (Eric Stonestreet), things take a turn for the worse and Max feels his way of life and territory being threatened. One thing leads to another and the two dogs’ machinations get them lost in the city with no collars. They find themselves besieged by dog catchers, alley cats, and a psychotically vengeful rabbit named Snowball (Kevin Hart), who has a hate on for humans and their pets. Max’s dog neighbor Gidget (Jenny Slate) realizes he’s missing, assembles the neighborhood animals (including a bloodthirsty falcon (Albert Brooks), of all things), and sets out to find them before all of their owners get home. Only time will tell if they succeed and if Max and Duke can overcome their rivalry.

Review: The Secret Life of Pets was a lot better than I expected, possessing a lot of charm, humor, and even some wit. That’s not to say it was perfect, but I was prepared for a lot more flaws because the studio that produced it, Illumination Entertainment, hasn’t always had the best record. The assortment of characters are all wonderfully diverse and even entertaining, from the overweight, apathetic cat (Lake Bell) to the tattooed street pig (Michael Beattie). While there’s not a lot of Pixar-level cleverness, there are many creative situations and moments that feel like something pets would actually do when they were alone. On top of that, it tangos with some really harsh realities and I applaud the movie for not chickening out there. I won’t spoil some of them, but let’s just say that dogs getting put to sleep at the pound is one of the lighter bombshells.

That said, where the movie has flaws, oh boy, does it have flaws. One of my biggest complaints is that near the beginning, Max and Duke are over the top jerks to each other. For crying out loud, Duke bullies Max out of his bed and blanket before Max breaks loads of stuff in the house to frame Duke the next day. I know we’re supposed to want to see them overcome their differences and become friends in the end (and to its credit, the movie does manage to salvage this), but this was too deep of a chasm to climb out of. In fact, I thought a lot of really cruel stuff was dressed up in a vibrant package and I’m still not sure I’d be comfortable exposing my future kids to it. Finally — and this is something the movie made me realize — I’m not a fan of Kevin Hart. Even before I knew who voiced the bunny, I was annoyed by his shrill voice. That sums up my problems with the man right there — his humor comes from the fact that he’s loud and shrill and that’s it. I’m sure he’s a great person in real life, but can I see him tell an actual joke please?

While it may not become a milestone of children’s animation, The Secret Life of Pets was still a perfectly fine movie. Kids will certainly enjoy it and adults will get quite a few kicks out of it as well. You won’t die if you don’t see it, but I know pet lovers will get a lot out of it before running home to play with their animal companions again. It’s no Finding Dory, but it’s still worth seeing.

Fun Tidbit: Think the sound people recorded an actual bird for the character of Sweat Pea, who spoke in nothing but chirps? Nope! That’s the voice of Tara Strong, who has lent her voice to so many projects it’s impossible to list them. I knew she could change her voice into radically different sounds and voices, but perfectly imitating actual bird tweets? I’m calling witchcraft.

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