Short Legged but still Cute: Our Review of ‘The Secret Life of Pets’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - July 08, 2016
Short Legged but still Cute: Our Review of ‘The Secret Life of Pets’

There’s nothing wrong with cute, but in reality it can only carry you so far.

The Secret Life of Pets is as expected an unimaginably cute affair but its thin script while fine for the kids ends up being a little hit and miss for the adults who paid for the tickets.

Have you ever wondered what happens when we leave our beloved pets home for the day?  Enter the scene at a standard Manhattan apartment building where Max (Louis C.K.) and his life as the favorite pet is about to be turned upside down when his owner brings home a big sloppy mongrel of a dog named Duke (Eric Stonestreet).  After a dog walking trip gone horribly wrong, they have to put their quarrels aside as they encounter the adorable Snowball (Kevin Hart) who with his army of abandoned pets is hell bent on bringing down a world filled with happy pets and happy pet owners.

From the minds behind the Despicable Me franchise, The Secret Life of Pets does enough right to give us some funny set ups along memorable characters and moments but the premise wears a little too thin as it falls a little flat in the final act of the film.


The script from Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch starts off exceptionally strong as it rocks through a number of very funny beats and the directing team of Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney keep it all humming along at a very efficient clip.  The myriad of characters are set up well and each is given some very distinct screen time especially towards the middle off the movie when it essentially becomes a chase film.

Sadly though this is when the film begins to come off the rails.  Our two lead dogs are cute but they get surpassed by the supporting characters who just feel much more interesting and fleshed out then the leads.  No one does a bad job, but the writing lets us as an audience down.  We are never really 100% engaged in these leads, and we really should have been.

The voice performances from top to bottom are actually pretty good as Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Albert Brooks, Lake Bell, Hannibal Buress and Dana Carvey all do fine work but it is two stand outs in the supporting cast that actually carries this movie farther then it probably should have gone.

As the maniacally adorable bunny Snowball, Kevin Hart channels a hilarious militant revolutionary with aplomb and ease in what just might be one of his funniest performances that he has ever given to date.  He goes pedal to the metal on this one, and it works.  Alongside the always hilarious Jenny Slate as Gidget; the surprisingly driven paramour of Louis C.K.’s Max, she brings an insanely fun energy to the table.  Seeing her chase down her man through the streets of New York is actually more entertaining than seeing Max & Duke try to get home and become lifelong friends.

At the end of the day, The Secret Life of Pets is an entertaining little romp that will delight the entire family but it just might not stand up to repeat viewings.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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