Movie Reviews: The Secret Life of Pets




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     Universal (1hr. 17 min.)
     A terrier named Max's quiet life is upended when his owner takes in Duke, a stray whom Max instantly dislikes.
     Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Lake Bell, Ellie Kemper, Eric Stonestreet, Bobby Moynihan
Bottom Line:

Jon Rutledge

The Secret Life of Pets has potential as a great franchise. It unfortunately has problems with over-stuffing the story with too many sub-plots. The numerous plot points competing for time give the film pacing issues. The production quality is outstanding and it has top-notch talent but it gets lost and can’t land on what the main story is.

Voicing Max, a dog, is Louis C.K. (Louie, Stand up) he is accompanied by Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family, Almost Famous) as Duke, his new dog roommate. They are the rivals for the title of top dog in their apartment. Their feud overflows into the streets and they get lost in the city. They are rescued by a bunny, Snowball (Kevin Hart) (Get Hard, Ride Along), the head of a militant anti-human organization. Escaping from Snowball and his crew, Max and Duke get further lost but learn a lot about each other in the process.

One of the subplots that needed more screen time was Gidget (Jenny Slate) (Zootopia, The Lorax), a Pomeranian, who has a crush on Max and leads their friends on a rescue mission. This really needed to be the main plot of the film. It was way more interesting and Jenny Slate could carry it. Her performance is second only to Kevin Hart’s maniac bunny. There is another subplot involving Duke’s background but it’s not needed and slows down the film. There is no need to explain Duke’s past, his arrival is just the inciting incident. We can explore more of his story in subsequent film, if it takes off.

As this movie has an engaging first half but loses its way on the second I would suggest that this is a rental. The Illumination Entertainment Company has done some good films but recently they are in a slump. They have an excellent production company and as soon as it works out how to tell a story they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.

This one is aimed at the kids. Adults may watch it, but they are going to be thinking about a different movie.

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