'The Secret Life of Pets' - Movie Review

Jul 06, 2016, 16:10 IST | Johnson Thomas

The story of 'The Secret Life of Pets' is a little vague and delusional but the entertainment quotient is high. And it's clear right from the beginning that this is a case of serious 'dog' worship

'The Secret Life Of Pets'
U; Animation-Comedy

Directors: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
Cast: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Jenny Slate

Anything to do with pets sounds adorable and Hollywood has been laying the ‘pet effect’ quite thickly ever since 'Lassie' caught the public eye several decades ago. This fresh salvo, albeit an animated 3D effected one, comes from the ‘Despicable Me 2’ director Chris Renaud, and makes us (the audience) ringside viewers of the adventures of a privileged inner-city terrier who teams up with a spirited mongrel to prevent a sinister bunny from assembling an army of abandoned pets to stage a massive uprising.

The story is a little vague and delusional but the entertainment quotient is high. And it's clear right from the beginning that this is a case of serious ‘dog’ worship. So all the other pets are mere runners or accompanying cameo players who have little to do in the scheme of things. It’s the two dogs who are central to the story and their rivalry for the affections of their mistress - is what sets the adventure rolling. While the general stereotypes about cats, dogs and other human-friendly domesticated animals are maintained, there are a few characteristics included that make them seem a little too fancifully engineered. Their movements don’t come out as natural and the story that encompasses a dog walker losing his two charges and not bothering about it, does come across as contrived.

Watch 'The Secret Life of Pets' trailer

Cats, a rabbit, a hawk, a canary, a hamster and fish don’t get the enchanted treatment. Though all of them, save for the fish, are integrated into the storyline, they have unimpressive personalities and lack consistent positivity. Max (Louis CK), a contented terrier, whose perfect life is shattered when his beloved owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) brings home a huge, unruly rescued dog, Duke (Eric Stonestreet). Their constant bickering eventually leads them to lose their way on the streets of New York, where they fall in with the wrong crowd. The cute, largely toothless, sewer-dwelling rabbit Snowball (Kevin Hart), the leader of a group of abandoned pets, is all set to start a new revolution by taking down all pet owners in New York and Max and Duke who have lost their way, find themselves pretending to be part of the revolution in a bid to search their way back home. Max’s neighbour Gidget (Jenny Slate), a Pomeranian, who loves Max secretly, plays the heroic savior who organises a rag-tag team of animals from the building to search for Max and Duke. And that calls for chase sequences, dog catchers hunting for fresh culls, on-the-road run-arounds, some toonish stunt-action and a whole lot of attitude.

The film has a brisk pace, but the story is pretty much well-trodden and playing to type. Also the plotline goes beserk trying to invent an adventure that might not seem all that plausible or affecting. If you are a dog lover, you will love this all the way through. If you are a pet lover (and I mean a generic one) you will find this a harmless entertainer but if you hate pets or are allergic to them, then you might not be wholeheartedly impressed by their shenanigans on screen. And that’s the way this cookie crumbles.

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