I love a good animated movie. My dad thinks I’m crazy for this, because the last time we went to go see an animated movie, we saw the aberration that was Flushed Away.
So, I guess I don’t blame him for being cautions of the whole genre. It makes sense.
But, seriously, you can’t compare a movie like Flushed Away to the likes of Inside Out, Despicable Me or Frozen. But I digress.
While on vacation in Portland, we all went to see The Secret Life of Pets, which I had been anxiously awaiting since first seeing the initial trailer back in January. And being a person whose had dogs her whole life I was beyond excited. And so was my boyfriend. We were basically fangirling about it every time we talked about movies.
The movie, produced by Illumination (the company that produced Despicable Me, which I loved) and tells the stories of various pets living in an apartment building in Manhattan. When Max’s human brings home a new dog, Duke, Max has a hard time adjusting and the two fight, resulting in a rabble-rousing adventure through New York, as the two try to find their way home.
The trailers would have you believe this is a classic children’s movie, filled with fun jokes, musical numbers and just a little bit of hard times before the happy ending.
But let me tell you, it gets dark fast.
Let’s start with Duke’s arrival. Max kind of overreacts to Duke at first, which leads to a loss of his bed, food and general comfort in his own home. This seems really dark to me. I mean, I was literally getting a pit in my gut because I was worried about this animated dog not having any food.
Fast forward to the street-gang of animals whose sole mission seems to be the destruction of human kind. I think the creators were trying to address animal abuse and neglect, which is a valid topic. But, honestly, I think they went a bit overboard. I mean they talk about how the pig used to be a practice canvas for tattoo artists and the animal gang initiated new members by having a viper bite them. Like, woah. Clam down.
And I really hate that damn bunny.
And then there’s the scene with Max and Duke in the sausage factory. I thought it was funny — of course, that’s every dog’s fantasy — but then it got weird. I legitimately wondered if there was pot or acid in the sausage. In fact, it kind of felt like we were tripping a bit. Just weird.
Also, the love interest could have been developed a bit more. Like we didn’t know this was really a thing until about halfway through the movie.
On the other hand, I really liked Duke’s back story and the way they tried to weave it in, although I think they could have done a better job with the story of how Duke got lost from his original owner. And my absolute favorite parts were the ones showing what all the animals do when their humans leave — even the old-timer’s party was great.
I really loved all of the secondary characters, like Buddy and Mel and Chloe. Honestly next to Gidget (who kind of reminds me of our own dog), Chloe was my favorite. I loved how they paid special attention to getting the animals’ mannerisms right. It really helped build up the characters so much and they were all so true to their animal. I really loved that.
So, honestly, I’m on the fence about this movie. If I were to rate it, I’d probably give it 2 1/2 stars, because to me, the best parts took up the least amount of the movie. And that’s not a good ratio to have.
Although you should go see it purely for those moments.
What did you think of The Secret Life of Pets? What do you think your pets do when you’re not home? Let’s talk.