The Secret Life of Pets: What Pets Do When You’re Gone

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The Secret Life of Pets is an animation brought to us by the company known as Illumination. They have created films like Despicable Me and Minions. Based on their decent track record with those films, it wasn’t odd for some people to have some hype for this film, and I’m not just talking about pet owners, animal lovers, etc, I’m talking about all moviegoers alike. Honestly, I never cared for Despicable Me, so I didn’t have high hopes for this film.

This year when it comes to animations, this may be one of the best years in that genre. Sure, last year we had the remarkable masterpiece of Inside Out but as far as animations go, that may have been the only one released last year that is still memorable to this date. Out of all the animations in the year of 2016, this has to be the worst I’ve seen so far. I’ve seen Finding Dory, Kung Fu Panda 3, and Zootopia, they’re all significantly better than this. Does that mean this movie sucks? No. It was decent, but we’ll come back to that.

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The main character of this movie is a dog named Max, when he was young, he was found in New York City, he was taken in by his then new owner, life continued from there, it was beautiful, it was great. However, when he got a little bit older, a new dog identified as his “brother” came into his apartment with his owner. They couldn’t really get along at first but it wasn’t too much longer until that aspect of the film went away. Here’s my problem with that though. There are some kids who take things too seriously, and part of me worries that they might take this dog a little too seriously, he starts making intentional messes in front of his “brother” and plans to eventually use him as a scapegoat. Part of me wonders if gullible young minds might take this as a lesson that when you hate a roommate, make a mess in the room, go to your parents, and tell them they made the mess when in actuality, you’re the troublemaker.

The opening sequence in this movie for me was something to rave about. It kind of makes me think that if one day I have kids (and I say kids because I’m not a pet person), and I leave them home alone while I go into work or do something else away from them, if they will act this way, or behave in a calm manner. Granted I was always left home alone when my mother went on errands, I was just relaxing, doing homework, and guarding the house. I liked it, and I still do it today. My favorite scene out of all of them in the sequence is when a dog’s owner leaves, there’s classical music playing on a stereo system. The door closes as the owner leaves, then the dog just immediately changes the song to a metal song. I didn’t hear many laughs when this happened though, probably because they showed this in the trailers.

The biggest surprise to me in this movie was Kevin Hart. In case you didn’t know, he’s in the movie playing a bunny, and he’s awesome at it. At this point, all I thought Kevin Hart would do in his career is movies that mostly be watched by an adult, but no. He ROCKS in this movie made for children. To me, he’s what would happen if you take Dug from Up, and make him a little less talkative, but scream at the top his lungs every once in a while. I won’t go into more detail because there are some major plot points that some people might get mad at me for giving out here.

One thing I really like about this movie is some of the humor. The movie does a good job at poking fun at certain things. For example, this movie is about pets, so what is a go to joke at some points? Cat owners vs. dog owners! This is done very well throughout the movie and probably somewhat true. The film even makes fun of traditional romances that you may see in certain movies. I could have rolling on the floor laughing, but then I would have been an embarrassment in a public movie theater. This is not a big problem the more I think about it, but if there was one thing I wanted to see more of, it’s poking fun at cats hating dogs, or dogs hating cats, perhaps a chase between the two.

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Chris Stuckmann, a YouTube movie reviewer, also saw this movie and reviewed it. In the video, he points out that this movie is basically Toy Story with pets. Now that I’ve seen the movie, I can get why he says that. However, I can’t fully agree with that statement. While it does take elements from the Toy Story movies (specifically 1 & 2), I wouldn’t say it is a complete ripoff. I won’t go into detail because some people might get mad, but there were some minor differences between the two movies. The movies were structured in similar ways, but looking back, they aren’t the exact same movie. I’d go ahead and say that this movie took a lot of inspiration from Toy Story, but it goes in a little bit of a different direction.

The Secret Life of Pets was a decent film, and probably the closest I’ve come to caring about Illumination. By the way, speaking of Illumination, there was a short before the movie having to do with the minions, it was pretty funny. I’m going to give The Secret Life of Pets a 6/10. Just some tidbits to be aware of, this was the first movie I saw in Showcase XPlus, which is Showcase’s premium large format experience. I cannot decide whether or not to post my thoughts about it, but if I do, stay tuned. Also, the new Ghostbusters movie comes out next weekend, and I plan to see it ASAP. I had no hype for it whatsoever, but I really need to see what this movie really is behind the curtain. Stick around, because Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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