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Review: The Secret Life Of Pets

From Illumination Entertainment, the clever studio that gave us Despicable Me as well as The Minions, The Secret life of Pets stars the voice of Louis C.K who plays Max, a dog who lives happily with his owner until his owner adopts another dog, Duke, voiced by Eric Stonestreet. Other notable voices in the film include Kevin Hart as a rabbit called Snowball.

Some moments of animation were well directed; the opening shot of New York was easily the highlight of the film. What the best directors do with animation is construct shots that could never be done practically in real life. This is a technique used in one of my favourite animated films, The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn.

Some moments of the film are fun, like the scene in the sausage factory  and some characters were fun to watch, like Dana Carvey as Pops, a paralysed old dog and mob boss.

I would happily put money on the fact that you have already seen this film, even if you think you have not. You saw it in Toy Story 2. The Secret Life of Pets is effectively Toy Story 2 with pets in place of toys.

The film copies many side plots of Toy Story 2, but is far less compelling. It involves a separate group of animals trying to locate Max and Duke who even has a previous lost owner.

Most of the film is predictable and has a sense of humour in the same vein as an internet cat video. Calling it ‘humour’ is generous – young children in the same showing remained tacit.

While he is a rising star, Kevin Hart gave a performance which annoyed me constantly, with most of his jokes falling flat. His performance is Spongebob Squarepants from the hood. The character’s actions in the last scene don’t make any sense, giving him a redemptive character arc for the sake of it. Calling it redemptive is a bit of a stretch, we never really see him do anything that bad.

Another way the film attempts humour is by having a character dress as a minion –  the beloved henchmen from the Despicable Me franchise. I have seen references like this in various other media and it annoys me because it comes across as showboating about their critical acclaim.

The Secret Life of Pets can probably be enjoyed if you are a young child or have the mind of one, but do not rush out to see it.

★★☆☆☆