It's not so secret when they show it in the trailer
Opening in early September, The Secret Life of Pets is the latest film by Minion creator Chris Meledandri. While it is a fun way to spend an hour and a half, and kids will love it, Pets will never make it to the same level of cult appreciation as Minions.
It is neither as clever as Monster Inc nor as dark as Zootopia, it doesn't have the highs of Frozen nor the complexity of Inside Out. It's cute and fluffy and doesn't offer anything very challenging or meaningful.
Duke and Max, image courtesy Secret Life of Pets Facebook page
Most people will say that's fine because it's just a kids' film. But that overlooks the fact that parents have to take kids to these films, and parents will make the decision whether to go back again or buy the DVD later on. This review is for the parents, not the kids, who will think it is funny and cute and exciting (and a tad scary in places).
Fluffy and surprising Gidget, image courtesy Secret Life of Pets Facebook page
The story of The Secret Life of Pets follows beloved pet dog Max and his unwelcome new roommate, Duke, a stray his owner has picked up from the pound. Max and Duke instantly dislike each other, but when they both get caught by the pound, sparking a dog-hunt from Max's wannabe girlfriend Gidgit and a motley band of cats, dogs and birds, the ensuring chase and antics concludes with a predictable yet satisfying ending (hint: they become friends).
The voice cast is relatively unknown, the soundtrack forgettable (apart from a somewhat hallucinogenic performance of Grease's 'We'll Always Be Together' by the contents of a sausage factory) and there are an alarming number of terrifying characters including a psychotic white rabbit, a pet-eating viper, a manky skinless cat that looks like it's on meth, and a hawk who spends most of the movie trying not to eat the main protagonists (he was one of my favourite characters, the other being Chloe 'I'm-your-friend-and-as-your-friend-I-don't-care-about-you-or-your-problems' the Cat).
Despite this, this is still a fun kids' movie, and they will enjoy it. Parents won't hate it either, but you won't remember much, and like most movies, all the best bits are shown in the trailer. Despite what the trailer suggests, you don't actually see what pets do during the day when their humans are away – this is a chase and adventure movie through and through.
New York has a starring role, image courtesy Secret Life of Pets Facebook page
The one outstanding feature of this film – for me anyway – were the glorious scenes of New York, including a mind-blowing flyover in the opening scenes, night views of the stunning city, realistic shots of the bridges and river. The little glimpses of human-life in this film were also eye-opening, especially the shots of washing being strung between buildings, and the cramped yet impersonal world of life in one of the world's most crowded cities.
Adults will also appreciate certain scenes that many of us can relate to, especially a particularly funny scene in which Chloe the cat debates whether or not she should eat an entire roast chicken sitting in the fridge of her owner. Anyone who has ever dieted will relate to this scenario with hearty chuckles.
A new Minion short cartoon is also shown, image courtesy Secret Life of Pets Facebook page
The Secret Life of Pets is an above average film for parents and a great film for kids who will probably go home begging for a cute fluffy pet of their own. The whole family will also enjoy the special Minion cartoon that previews before the main picture – be ready for Minion nudity.