“The Secret Life of Pets” Review

You know what is great about being an adult?  Having a maturity level which allows you to comprehend complicated subjects, process thoughts rationally/logically, and being able to contribute valuable ideas and opinions to society.  You know what is great about being a child?  The endless imaginative worldview, innocence, not having to stress about anything complicated, and enjoying life.  The Secret Life of Pets insults both of those stages of life.

The Secret Life of Pets is directed by Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney.  It’s written by: Brian Lynch, Ken Daurio, and Cinco Paul.  Stars-Louis C. K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Lake Bell, and Albert Brooks.  Premise-Pet dog Max is living his domesticated life until his owner Katie brings in a stray dog named Duke.  Things get out-of-control really fast as Duke and Max can’t get along.

The tweet I sent out about this movie may have been a bit too harsh, but this movie is still extremely aggravating.  That is mostly due to the exploitive marketing.  Thanks to last year’s billion dollar blockbuster Minions (also produced by Illumination Studios); companies will lean towards making child-pandering animated films which consists of things kids love.  A few of those things would be: toilet humor, cute animals (oh wait, adults love those too), slapstick humor, and Minion characters, lots and lots of Minion characters.  It is because of those yellow pills that Illumination is actually still in business.  Sadly, this movie managed to be almost as pointless as Minions.  There is even a completely pointless Minions short film before the actual movie begins.  Illumination, you are not Pixar.  The only thing this short film manages to do is remind the kids that they love the Minions.

The positives are few and far between.  The animation is pretty to look at, and the movement/designs are fast-paced and detailed.  Despite this, I believe this movie should have been made in 2D rather than 3D.  The movements the animals (and even some humans) make would not work in real life, and 3D animation is meant to look close to real life (Pixar taught us that).  Considering how few 2D animated films we get nowadays, it would be nice if this movie changed it up a bit.  There is also one character that doesn’t get that much screentime.  The character is named Pops, and he’s voiced by Dana Carvey.  His lines are delivered very well, and his jokes are the only dialogue-based ones that are funny.   The rest of the cast fails to be funny, endearing, or even tolerable.  Seriously, we have comedians Louis C.K. and Kevin Hart in the cast, and they couldn’t be less funny!  Most of the time, they’re just shouting their lines, or just plain shouting (there is an annoying amount of shouting in this movie).

My gosh, the amount of stupidity in this movie is unreal.  The plot starts off like Toy Story, then it does this Adventures in Babysitting thing for 40 minutes (where innocent characters get into dangerous/ wacky scenarios), then it becomes a buddy drama, and ends in a gloriously bewildering mix of genres that left me feeling completely confused.  Nearly every time a scene cuts to another, the scene we cut to has a tone which is completely opposite from the previous (and I thought the transitions in Batman v Superman were horrendous).  Now to the sound, it is an abomination.  There are an overuse of stock cat sound effects, extremely loud impact sounds, and (as previously stated) actors screaming their lines!

The characters, oh good grief the characters!  Let me tell you, there is enough drama, attempted tension, and sappy scenes in this movie to make a Woody Allen comedy.  Unfortunately this movie lacks the characters that make Woody Allen comedies decent movies.  As I watched characters nearly: get run over, be clawed to death, go insane, get eaten by snakes, go through emotional turmoil due to the loss of the only person who ever gave them love, etc., I felt nothing.  With the exception of Pops, these characters aren’t interesting, funny, charming, or have anything worth watching (the villain is a near-rip-off of Fifi from Open Season 2).  Apparently this movie is getting pretty high ratings from critics.  Most of them admit that it accomplishes little besides “fun innocent entertainment.”  To that I say, BULLCRAP!  In a year where so many kid-friendly films are boldly and cleverly adding social commentary to their stories to make the movie that much more useful (Finding Dory, Captain America: Civil War, and Zootopia being some of the most popular), pandering movies like The Secret Life of Pets should not be accepted as decent.

How are the jokes in this movie?  They suck.  In addition to half-hearted voice-acting, the jokes are insultingly simple.  Unlike in Toy Story where the jokes were clever, and utilized the concept to its full potential, The Secret Life of Pets makes every overused “stupid/cute animal” gag ever.  You know ’em, “the cat chasing the laser pointer” gag, “the dogs hating squirrels” joke, etc.  The problem is, these jokes are predictable, you have seen them one million times before, and you can do this in real life with actual pets!  Why would I want to pay $10 bucks to see pets do this crap in animated form, when I could see it in real life for free?!  The only thing worse than the humor is the atrociously slow pacing.  The movie isn’t even 90 dang minutes, but it felt like 2 hours!

Are you ready for extreme awkwardness?  No?  Well you’re gonna deal with it because I had to deal with it for 90 minutes!  You’re not gonna believe this; remember what I said about the toilet humor?  There are a plethora of: pee jokes, poop jokes, spit flying all over the screen (did I mention that this movie is in 3D?), and even a few animal anuses.  That’s freaking right, they actually spent the time, money, and energy to animate buttholes on some of these dang characters!  If you think reading this post is awkward, just imagine sitting in the theater and having one of those pop up on the screen!  The amount of confusion I have for this decision is immense.  Just why?  Why would you spend real money on that!  No one wants to see that!  That’s it; I’m done with this freaking movie!

Look, if you have pets (or are an animal lover) and find this movie endearing because it relates to you, that’s fine.  If you’re a child who loves cute animals, that’s fine too.  But for the love of effort people, I hold kids movies to a higher standard than what Illumination does.  Out of the 6 films they’ve released (Hop, The Lorax, Despicable Me 1/2, Minions, and The Secret Life of Pets); only the Despicable Me movies are actually good.  It’s because they spent less time trying to appeal to the broadest demographic and more time on actually trying to be creative, have interesting characters, and compelling drama.  I truly don’t understand why so many critics and audience members are acknowledging that this movie kinda sucks, but give it a free pass anyway.  From the plagiarized plot, pandering humor, bland characters, lazy voice-acting, and lack of anything (except the animation) worthy of calling it “useful,” The Secret Life of Pets is a pitiful excuse for a kids animated film.  It gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a D.

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