The Secret Life of Pets
dir Chris Renaud
prd Christopher Meledandri
scr Ken Daurio, Brian Lynch, Cinco Paul
voices Louis CK, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Lake Bell, Albert Brooks, Ellie Kemper, Dana Carvey, Steve Coogan, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Michael Beattie
release UK 24.Jun.16, US 8.Jul.16
16/US Universal 1h30
The Secret Life of Pets
Furry friends: Duke, Snowball and Max

ck stonestreet hart
Showing with:
Mower Minions

See also:
Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019)

R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Secret Life of Pets With a manic pace and colourful characters, this animated adventure is a lot of fun. The witty script keeps the audience laughing, even if none of the gags are particularly original, and the mayhem tips over into goofiness very early on, but there's a warmth to the characters that's engaging. And the animation has a bright, vivid quality to it.

Max (CK) is a happy little dog living with his owner Katie (Kemper) in Manhattan. By day, he hangs out with his pals in the nearby flats as they all wait for their owners to come home. This includes the perky white puffball dog Gidget (Slate) and the indulgent cat Chloe (Bell). Then Katie brings home a huge brown dog named Duke (Stonestreet), and a war for the alpha position breaks out. This inadvertently leads Max and Duke into an underworld of abandoned pets ruled by cute but feisty rabbit Snowball (Hart).

What follows is a series of chaotic chases as Snowball's motley crew chases Max and Duke to Brooklyn, while Gidget enlists the help of hawk Tiberius (Brooks) and basset hound Pops (Carvey) to lead a posse of her own. None of this really makes much sense, and the action is utterly nonsensical, right to the Die Hard-style climax. But everything about the movie is likeable, including the characters who are supposed to be villains.

The vocal cast has a lot of fun with this, adding witty touches that bring these critters to life. CK and Stonestreet are enjoyable as the enthusiastic heroes. As the bossy bunny, Hart is the scene-stealer, riffing through his dialog with an extra dose of bluster. But the most endearing characters are Slate's Gidget and Bell's Chloe, both of whom have surprisingly complex emotional lives that are cleverly highlighted by both the actors and the animators.

And the animators have a lot of fun with the design, which is busy and detailed, right down to the smallest elements of both settings and characters. Everything looks a bit plasticky, except for the luxuriant varieties of fur and feathers, which are gorgeously rendered. And an extended sequence featuring snakes gives the 3D an extra zing. So it's a bit frustrating that there aren't very many original gags here. Although the references are old enough that kids won't notice that all of this has been done before. And grown-ups probably won't mind being reminded of so many classic comedy bits.

cert u themes, violence, vulgarity 19.Jun.16

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