Two Opinions on The Secret Life of Pets

Mark (aged 43)
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There is a little Minions film at the start of The Secret Life of Pets. I’m not a big fan of the Minions but they have always been funny in their short films where the reduced running time allows for some quick slap stick without the burden of any real plotting. Until now that is because this new mini movie isn’t really amusing at all, it’s just a series of obvious and unengaging sight gags. It didn’t bode well for the feature film to follow, this was Illumination Animation Studios off their game and they’re no Pixar even when firing on all cylinders.

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As it happens it was a Pixar film that came to mind while watching The Secret Life of Pets. Pixar’s Up is remembered for those brilliant opening minutes telling the story of Carl and Ellie’s life together. The rest of the movie is good but it can’t quite measure up. Similarly the start of The Secret Life of Pets is fun but the rest of the film can’t measure up, it really really can’t measure up.

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The beginning gives us what the title promises. We get a series of scenes showing how household animals behave when their owners leave the house and it is all amusing. I won’t go through each gag because they are all in the trailer so you can watch them for yourselves right now. After this though it all changes when the perky underwritten human who owns a little dog called Max turns her canine buddy’s world upside down by bringing home a fat wookie. 

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Pretty soon the amusing study of animal’s foibles is left behind in favour of an adventure that rips off the first two Toy Story films. A new character arrives to the challenge hero’s status quo, the hero tries to get rid of him but his plan backfires, the rest of the gang travels across the city to rescue them, the bad guy just wants to be loved, everyone is friends in the end. To be fair, it isn’t all stolen from Toy Story. Some of it seems to come from Shaun the Sheep, Cats and Dogs and Jurassic Park 2 as well.

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There is one moment of originality where the two dogs imagine themselves to be in a fantasy world of dancing sausages, this is the only part that made me laugh, but most of it is generic and predictable.

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Part the problem for me is that this is a dog person’s film. They try to make concessions to lovers of felines but ultimately the cats do not come off that well. There is also a fundamental misunderstanding of feline nature. This is best illustrated in a sequence early on where one cat is struggling with their conscience about whether or not they should eat their owner’s chicken dinner. Cat people know that no cat would hesitate for a second under those circumstances.

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Of course as the plot escalates the action gets bigger and bigger and there is nothing secret about the life of pets when they are hijacking motor vehicles and causing pile ups on the Brooklyn Bridge.

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Speaking of New York, the city looks great but when the backgrounds are the best thing about a movie like this then something has gone wrong. 

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Tilly (aged 7)

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I think it was really cool when the dog Max suddenly had a new brother. They were not friends at first but they saved each other. They started as enemies then got back to friendship and best buds. I also thought it was really funny when the big dog Duke sat on Max.

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The little white rabbit was very mean at first but got to know the goodness in good people and became good himself. The snake was stupid, not scary, but the eagle was scary at first but as he became friendly I like him now 

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I thought New York looked better than it looked in real life. It was like it a decoration. The Empire State building was drawn really well. I liked the decoration of New York 

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The adventure was really fun. I was excited but it must have been terrifying for the dogs. It was really exciting to see. I like that they helped each other but didn’t like it when they got angry at each other.

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The sausage dancing was really awesome. Like Oompa Loompas but sausages dancing around a sausage town. I was like yummy!

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It was full of colours. It had a splash of this and a splash of that. Colourful!

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The poodle was funny but I don’t understand why the pig had so many tattoos?

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They put the effort in to make the film so people should watch it. I really think my friends should see it. People like my friends will just like it, especially my friend Max.

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I like the Minions film too.

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