After you walk out of The Secret Life of Pets, you will never look at any of your four-legged companions in the same way again. This delightful family comedy looks quite fetching, as it shows us the hilarious adventures of our pets once they are left alone without their owners. If you thought they sit around all day, waiting for you to return, you are only partially right.
We are first introduced to a terrier named Max (Louis C.K.), who is incredibly fond of his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper). Thus when she goes to work, he must seek entertainment and solace from the other pets in his building: Chloe (Lake Bell), Mel (Bobby Moynihan), Buddy (Hannibal Buress) and Sweet Pea (Tara Strong). His idyllic relationship with his beloved human is put to the test when Katie adopts a St. Bernard-esque mutt called Duke (Eric Stonestreet). The rivalry between the two will lead to a thrilling Citizen Canine adventure all over the city that will see these pooches being attacked by a gang of cats, including Ozone (Steve Coogan), and confront the almighty leader of The Flushed Pets, white rabbit Snowball (Kevin Hart).
Fortunately, Max’s friends run to his rescue under the leadership of Gidget (Jenny Slate), a white, charismatic Pomeranian who has a crush on him. Along the way, she will also recruit a hawk named Tiberius (Albert Brooks) and a paralyzed elderly dog that knows how to get around the Big Apple, Pops (Dana Carvey).
This delightful 3D computer animated film, directed by Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney —and produced by Illumination Entertainment in collaboration with Universal Pictures — is bound to be a hit. The witticism of the script, written by Brian Lynch, Cinco Paul, and Ken Dario is supported by a terrific voice cast that includes many stand-up comedians who enjoy the sense of rhythm for every punch-line.
Like every successful animated comedy before it, there are also emotional moments that enhance the humanity of the animal tale. The sentimental life lessons, imparted by the visual gags and projections of pet owners about their waggly friends will tickle you pink and move the coldest of hearts.
Illumination, who previously gave the world Despicable Me and Minions, continues to cultivate a whimsical and irreverent tone that plays on stereotypes and transforms them into powerful mirrors of human kind. Through these pets, a magnifying glass is set on men’s compulsive preoccupations that range from routine peeves to love affairs, along with the desire of doing as we like and having fear of the unknown. It’s a fantastic doppelganger depiction!
As regarding the technical side, the skyscrapers of New York are glorified with vintage allure. They stretch out majestically since they are seen from the point of view of a dog looking up from the ground. The color palette evokes the 1950s’ technicolor movies, just as Alexandre Despot’s musical score seems to echo like an aural tribute to Henry Mancini’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s strings from 1961.
Furthermore, The Secret Life of Pets also winks at more American classical cinema with some witty and amusing homages to films such as Grease and Some Like It Hot. This puppy love anthropomorphic blockbuster is drenched with such irresistible and ferocious amusement that it is bound to bring nothing but applause from both (or all four) hands.