My opinion right after watching film
My opinion right after watching the film is that it is nice to see Illumination finally have a success without Despicable Me being attached to it. This film is not amazing in the least, but it is not horrible in the least. To be honest, I had mixed emotions throughout a lot of the film that ranged from “great” to “irritating”. This film does show that the studio does have potential, but whether they use it or not if going to be their choice. If I were to be honest, they might be taking DreamWorks crown for the subjective “third best” spot.
There is literally no information on the production for this film I could find, other than the fact that a bunch of the voice actors joined the project in 2014, and the film was announced in 2014.
The film starts with a dog named Max (Louis C.K.) enjoying his time with his owner named Katie (Ellie Kemper), while all of the pets in the apartment complex would hang out with him while she is at work. It is good that they are establishing how important the relationship with their owner is to the pet, and how they react when they are left by themselves. This is a huge contrast compared to his friends, who are thrilled when they are given alone time. Everything would change when she brings home another dog named Duke (Eric Stonestreet).
Max climbs up the stairs outside to his fellow cat friend Chloe (Lake Bell)’s apartment. She is very selfish, and does not seem to care about him, but tells him that he needs to show Duke that he is the alpha dog. Max goes home to see Duke eating both of their food, and decides to get him kicked out of the house by destroying many objects of the house. UUUUUGGGGHHHHHH. Is this supposed to be funny? Seeing who can out-douche the other gets extremely old very quickly. Duke tricks Max into getting trapped in an ally, and the both of them are surrounded by a bunch of aggressive and angry cats, who takes their dog tags.
While Animal Control captures the both of them, the dog sitter nor the other dogs notice their disappearance. While Max is ranting in frustration and fear, Duke is sad and freaking out because he was just saved from the pound, and if he stays at the pound, he will be put down. A dog named Gidget (Jenny Slate) sees the dogs that Max was with, and asks for where he is, only to discover that he is missing. A rabbit named Snowball (Kevin Hart) stops in the middle of the road to attack the driver, before rescuing his the animals from the pound. Max and Duke convince him that they hate humans as much as the “Flesh Pets” do so they can be saved, which works.
The sake ends up being crushed by a bunch of bricks, causing the misfit crew to be determined to go after Max and Duke, which is the major conflict of the film. Gidget ends up in Chloe’s house to tell her, Mel (Bobby Moynihan), Buddy (Hannibal Buress), and Sweetpea (Tara Strong) about Max’s disappearance, and surprisingly Chloe had to convince the others to go find him, since he has got them all out of bad situations in the past. While this is happening, Max and Duke swim in the sea to sneak onto a boat, which is on its way to Brooklyn, causing the misfit crew to follow them to Brooklyn. Duke and Max start to bond of course (especially when the both end up in a sausage factory), and they gather more pets to roam through Brooklyn with them to find the two.
The Flesh Pets misfits end up bumping into Gidget’s crew in the midst of plotting their next plan to capture Duke and Max, which causes them to run away. Unfortunately for the crew, Gidget spazzes out on Snowball, which causes the Flesh misfits to chase after them. Duke talks about his last owner he was with for years before he was taken by the pound, and Max decides that they should go to the owner’s house. The go to the house, only for the pet cat to tell them that Duke’s old owner died, and he starts to have a mental breakdown, accusing Max of setting him up. The house owners call animal control, and hey capture Max, only for Duke to stall them so he can be caught instead, with Animal Control “thrilled” that they’ll be able to put him down. Snowball then fights with Max, which causes his friends to be captured, and the two are forced to work together to save their friends. Long story short, all of the groups are reunited, and the Animal Control truck goes into the sea, where Max tries to save Duke, who is drowning in the car in the sea. Snowball dives down to save them, and they all have a happily ever after, with all of their owners returning home to appreciate their pets.
The characters in the film are…… alright. Most of them are not complex or have much to them, but they work for what their roles are….. I guess. None of them are too memorable, but there is enough there that has me looking forward for the sequel to see these characters get more development.
I think my biggest issue with the characters is that there are WAY TOO MANY CHARACTERS for ANY of them to get much development, or much of a personality. If they removed some, maybe there would be a bit more focus.
The animation is very cartoony, which is the usual for Illumination Studios. They do it well enough, and the colours stand out a lot. The designs and the bright colours are expected, but I have to say it is amazing what they did with New York City, and seeing them run through the city throughout the many avenues. Seeing the atmosphere come to full fruition was brilliant to say the least.
The music in my opinion did not stand out to me at all. It was kind of generic, but sometimes, you do not need overdramatic music. No scores really got stuck in my head, or did anything memorable for me. I feel like I would have remembered if the score was unmatched for the actions in the film, so I cannot use that for an argument. There were some covers that I of course did not like or care for, like one of the songs from Grease.
Reception at Release
When the film was released on July 8th, 2016, it has made (as of October 9th, 2016) $365 million domestically, and in other territories it made $482 million, with a worldwide total of $848.2 million, making this a huge financial success for the studio. It currently holds the record for being the highest-grossing original animated film not produced by Disney or Pixar, so congratulations to this film.
Despite the large financial success, it received mixed-positive critical and audience reception. Many liked the film for showing another world of pets, and showing the emotions they go through, as well as giving a great, family friendly adventure, but some dislike it for being a blatant rip-off from the Toy Story franchise. I mentioned a bit earlier that there is already a sequel in the works, and it will come out in July of 2018.
= 27/40 = 68%
4 thoughts on “The Secret Life of Pets review”
My favorite Illumination film. I loved Chloe and Gidget and liked the animation. I did not like Snowball and his plotlines and the attempt to get emotion with Duke’s former owner didnt really work
Snowball definitely did get old, very quick. The emotional plotline kind of came out of nowhere, and didn’t have any payoff. I guess by default, this is my favourite Illumination film.