Vampire Owl: I told you that they had secrets, very dangerous ones.
Vampire Bat: Who are you talking about here?
Vampire Bat: Actually, this movie is not about your theory of animals stealing your writings. It never really happened, and is just a vampire conspiracy theory.
Vampire Owl: What? No! I know that they are having evil plans against us.
Vampire Bat: How can you look forward to big evil plans in an animated movie?
Vampire Owl: Animated evil is still evil, and it can also be brutal.
Vampire Bat: This one even won 2017 Kids’ Choice Awards.
Vampire Owl: Then I will look for the same in another evil animated movie.
Vampire Bat: Okay, just leave this one as a simple animated movie for now.
[Gets three cups of masala tea with a blueberry cake piece].
What is the movie about? :: A Jack Russell Terrier named Max (Louis CK) is living happily with his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) in an apartment in the city. He wishes to spend most of his time with her, but she has to go to work. After Katie leaves, he spends his time with other pets who also live in the same building: a fat, apathetic and proud cat Chloe (Lake Bell), a smart and always excited pug Mel (Bobby Moynihan), a happy and easy-going dachshund Buddy (Hannibal Buress), and also a parrot Sweetpea. There are also other two significant pets, Norman (Chris Renaud), a guinea pig who keeps losing his way in the apartment, and Gidget (Jenny Slate), a white Pomeranian dog on the opposite apartment having a desperate crush on Max, but haven’t been able to tell him that due to fear of rejection. All the pets socialise and lead a different life after their owners leave.
So, what happens next? :: As things go like this without anything new or special happening with their lives, Katie adopts Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a large mongrel from the dog pound. This leaves Max jealous about having to share his house and also his belongings with someone new. Despite Duke’s repeated attempts to make a deal to share things, Max doesn’t agree and claims everything for himself. He even attempts to make Max look bad in front of Katie even though she has decided to share her love between the two. Angry at Max’s attitude towards him, Duke tries to teach him a lesson outside, but they are both a group of stray cats who remove their collars and leave them on the streets to be caught by Animal Control. Max is desperate to get home again, while Duke is afraid that he will be put down if he goes back to the dog pound.
And then how do things go from there? :: But things don’t end there for them as help is on the way. There is Snowball (Kevin Hart), a white rabbit who leads a rebel group of pets who were mistreated and disowned by their owners. Max and Duke are saved, and they go with anti-domestication gang into the sewers, hoping to find their way back home one day. There are tales of cruelty from humans against the pets told by the members of the group, and hatred runs wild against the human species. As Max and Duke also pretend to hate humans, and even claim to have killed one, Snowball invites them to join the group. But their earlier enemies, the stray cats come in and tell the truth, and they escape, but not without Snowball on their trail vowing to kill them as they had ended up accidentally killing their holy viper. So, the question remains if they can save themselves, or even their old friends find them and save them before Snowball gets his hands on them?
The defence of The Secret Life of Pets :: The movie nicely takes on the other world, leading us through the imaginary space that our pets consider theirs. The voice cast is very much suitable, and there is lot of fun in store in this one. The kids are going to love this one, as already proven with Kids’ Choice Awards, and the people with pets will love it even more. This will appeal the most to the owners of dogs, but the rest also gets their due. There is the message of adjusting to the situations and also to consider the feelings of others, keeping family and friends close to each other. It also tells the owners of animals and birds to be nice to them, and to keep them close and provide the needed, as they are required to be. Well, we get to associate with more pets than we think we will have to; and The Secret Life of Pets will come into the mind more than once. The whole thing remain cute, even with the talks of murdering others.
The claws of flaw :: There are times when The Secret Life of Pets gives that feeling that we have known and seen this before; there are also moments of predictability and repetition, something that the animated movies have struggled so hard to avoid. There will no new level of animated awesomeness to be set here, and this one surely trails in front of the two big animated movies of the year, Moana and Zootopia or the earlier big one, Inside Out. The movie also focuses on the dog’s side, and it is no surprise with the number of people who have or feel the need to have the dog rather than any other. But a tale about pets like this one could have had more of the cats, and hopefully the sequel will have the same. It is a need, and with this stereotyping that has been going on and on with cats and dogs, maybe there will be a day on which all these things will turn the other way around – it is that day which will have the best of movies of this kind, and we hope that it is The Secret Life of Pets 2 that we can talk about like that.
How it finishes :: With the sequel coming up in the year 2019, what the makers need to realise is that a movie like The Secret Life of Pets doesn’t need to focus that much on making people laugh, because it is funny – maybe some divergence is what the second movie of this series should be having. There is no doubt about the box-office too with this one becoming the highest grossing original animated movie which is not produced by Disney or Pixar, and The Secret Life of Pets is also the the sixth highest grossing film of 2016. It is even above the much hyped movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Deadpool, Suicide Squad and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. So, the first movie is a winner in so many ways, and what we will need to have is something different and special in the second one, thus maybe even going on to win the Academy Awards for the Best Animated Feature Film – even that much can be done with this material.
Release date: 8th July 2016
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Chris Renaud
Starring: Louis CK, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Steve Coogan, Albert Brooks, Chris Renaud, Michael Beattie, Sandra Echeverría, Kiely Renaud
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.