The Secret Life of Pets
Director: Yarrow Cheney, Chris Renaud
Writer: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
Cast: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Albert Brooks, Lake Bell, Steve Coogan
Seen on: 11.8.2016
Max (Louis C.K.) has the best life a dog could possibly have. He loves his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) and she loves him and takes care of him. But then one day, Katie brings home another dog, Duke (Eric Stonestreet). Duke is huge and new and he’s here to stay. Max can’t have that, especially since Duke uses his size to bully Max. Their feud takes a turn for the worse when they are both captured by animal control, and then freed by the bunny Snowball’s (Kevin Hart) Flushed Animals resistance group.
I liked much about The Secret Life of Pets, but I didn’t fall in love with it as much as I thought I might.
I think my major problem with Pets is that it is firmly in favor of the established system. Max and Duke want nothing more than the safety of their existence with Katie, the worst fate both of them can imagine is to be without a owner who takes care of them. But Snowball and his group are the animals who weren’t so lucky with their owners. They were discarded, abused and are unwanted. But Snowballs quest to lead a life away from owners altogether, is only cause for ridicule. His extreme measures seem overblown, and maybe, secretly, he and most of his followers are just bitter because they didn’t have good owners. With that framing any valid points in his criticism simply disappears.
Snowball is misguided and laughable and dangerous in his extremism and the other pets without owners we meet – the street cats – are just dangerous and violent. [Which in itself comes with a bit of a racist and classist tinge – the homeless animals are dangerous, and Snowball is the only major character spoken by a black person.] And I have to say that I like my movies with a little less “just keep your head down and be a good dog” rhetoric and a little more of a revolutionary spark.
That being said, though, the film was enjoyable enough. It had some very funny moments (like all kinds of movie references and other jokes aimed at adults) and the animals were really cute. I also liked Gidget’s (Jenny Slate) determination to save Max, although his ignorance of her feelings and her obsessive pining for him didn’t sit all too right with me either.
In any case, watching the film is a breeze and I can very much imagine that kids love it (in fact those I know, do). But I simplay wasn’t all that enthusiastic about it.