So I just saw The Secret Life of Pets, and after searching down in the inner depths of my soul for the best compliment I could give this movie, I would say that at least it is not insufferable.
I mean, it fits in with the theme of this year: that current children’s animation movies have an abysmal amount of self-restraint. However, if I were to compare it to all the other animated movies I have seen this year, this one is probably a bit higher up, but not by much.
The animation was alright. There was nothing spectacular about it, but there were quite a few scenes where I was wowed by the scale of the city shots.
One of the things I liked most about The Secret Life of Pets is whenever they set up a joke that plays off of how animals actually act in real life. An example of this is when one of the animals is trying to break up a house party, so the animal has someone turn on a vacuum and it scares all of them away. The funniest jokes were all ones like this. I really, really wish they utilized this kind of humor more…
…Because many of the jokes were just hyperbolic instances of animals doing things that might as well have been humans doing them. I mean I guess they had to make them animals because animals are typically cuter, but is it really all that funny to have things like dogs wearing web cams so that they can post funny videos to Youtube? (I realize this critique is a bit more subjective)
The rest of the jokes simply utilize a frustrating amount of slapstick and absurdity. I was really bummed about laughing out loud for one scene only to have the next three or more scenes disappoint me with an overbearing amount of pointlessness and ridiculousness. There were times during the film where I was thinking, “Please, for the love of God, please just tone the movie down. I seriously want to like this film. Please just let me like this film.” But nope, because this movie is for children and children will laugh at anything, so let’s just fill it with a bunch of senseless crap.
The story is relatively generic with little to no surprises whatsoever. (I guess the rest of this paragraph is spoiler-ish? I don’t know.) Protagonist has a great life. New disruptive character gets introduced and now protagonist has a not so great life. Now there’s conflict. Then they get in trouble together. Then they learn that they’re not so different after all. Now they’re friends. Then, oh yes, then there is a Conflict Transition (one of the most underdeveloped and most quickly resolved Conflict Transitions I have seen in my entire life. Almost as if there was no point at all except to check it off a box on a standardized movie list). Then they resolve conflict. Now they’re best friends. Hurray.
Out of all the characters in this film, the female white fluffy dog was the only one that I would call entertaining. Everyone else was either unexceptional or annoying.
Leading the annoying character brigade was the spastic rabbit played by Kevin Hart… and not only was the rabbit so obnoxious and over-the-top, but his character basically changes motivation and drive whenever the movie needed him to. Considering this is the only real villain in this film, the vast majority of the scenes were rather tensionless and inconsequential (but hey it, it’s a kid’s movie).
The soundtrack in this movie is awful. Half the time, it seemed like it was trying to be a knock-off Pixar soundtrack, and the other half of the time, it was playing an array of generic, empty pop music, and they really did not mesh well together.
So I know I just talked about this movie as if it’s the worst thing in the world, but even though I had a lot of complaints about how derivative and unexceptional this movie is, there is enough charming things in here for an adult to watch and not blow their brains out. This movie is mainly made for kids who do not hold movies to higher standards. If I had a different rating system for children’s movies, I’d use it, but as I do not review movies for children, and as I have seen children’s movies that are able to be held up to a high standard, I do not plan on giving this movie any extra credit. Go see this movie if you have kids, because it’s relatively harmless, but keep in mind that this movie knows that no one is going to hold it accountable, and that it will take advantage of it by being lazy (but that’s something I could say for most animated movies this year), and I’m giving this movie a 4 out of 10.