If you’ve seen the trailer for The Secret Life of Pets, you’ve basically already seen the best bits of Illumination Entertainment’s latest movie. Yes, the pets watch TV, hold parties, and go on death-defying adventures when their owners leave home. But if you’ve looped the trailers, there’s nothing funny left, and the storyline is completely predictable.
Spoilt terrier Max (Louis C.K.) leads a happy life with his owner Katie until one day she brings home Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a massive Newfoundland, from the pound. When both dogs are captured by the New York Animal Control, the reluctant pair must rely on each other to get home safely.
There’s the clichéd scene of being washed down the sewers, some crazy car chases, a bus hanging off the edge of a bridge – but the stakes never get high enough, even by the end, to get you more than ever so slightly worried.
The movie would still have been fine if the characters were half as awesome as the Despicable Me Minions, but none of them, not even the tattooed pig, are special enough or given enough screen time to be memorable. Max and Duke could have pulled off a lovable frenemy chemistry, but this never happens. A scene where sausages dance around merrily before getting eaten is also slightly disturbing.
The highlight of the movie is Kevin Hart’s Snowball, a bunny formerly in the employ of a magician, who leads an underground gang of abandoned pets to revenge against the humans. Bucktoothed and fluffy, Snowball is incredibly cute, so it’s hilarious to hear him tough talking and charging his way through the city with insane energy.
The film is sure to be a favourite among children, but if you’re looking for an animation that’s got a bit more depth, Pixar’s still your best bet.