‘The Secret Life of Pets’: Simple, funny and entertaining (IANS Review, Rating: ***)

Film: “The Secret Life of Pets”; Directors: Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney; Voices of: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Albert Brooks, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Chris Renaud and Steve Coogan; Rating: ***

Have you ever wondered what your pets do when you’re gone and they are left home alone? “The Secret Life of Pets” answers your question in the most simple, funny and entertaining manner. It is a pet owner’s nightmare that is delightfully portrayed.

The plot is an oddly dark, fast-paced emotional trip which has a similar concept to the 1995 released, “Toy Story”. It is a tale of relationship and bonding.

The narration begins with a peppy background score, “Welcome to New York,” and a sweeping aerial view of the city, introducing Max (Louis C.K.), the rescued Jack Russel terrier and his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) along with their neighbours’ pets – Gidget (Jenny Slate) a fluffy American Eskimo dog, Chloe (Lake Bell) the grey coloured tabby cat, Mel (Bobby Moynihan) a hyperactive pug, Buddy (Hannibal Buress) a laid back dachshund and Sweet Pea (Tara Strong) a Parakeet. They are all Max’s friends.

Life was hunky-dory for the domesticated gang till Katie brings home Duke, a Newfoundland dog.

Max who was raised by Katie since he was a pup sees Duke as a threat to his only-pet dynamics. He gets jealous and tries to persuade Katie to send Duke back to where he came from.

But before Max could convince Katie, Duke bullies him. Soon the battle of one-upmanship ensues till they both land up on the streets facing some tough alley cats led by Ozone (Steve Coogan) a Sphynx Cat, New York’s animal controllers, Snowball an adorable little bunny (Kevin Hart) who turns out to be a gritty leader of a big underground gang of former pets bent on a revolution against humans.

A variety of animals, ranging from snakes, fish, a pig, cats and birds populate the underbelly.

After being away from home for long, the duo convince Snowball they also hate humans. But their initiation into the cult goes awry when they accidentally kill the viper, angering Snowball and the gang who chase them through the sewers.

Meanwhile, Gidget who is in love with Max realises that Max is missing. She goes out to search for him and comes across Tiberius (Alber Brooks) the red tailed hawk, who helps her in her mission.

What starts of as an impressive fun-filled caper soon tires itself with familiar sub-plots some of which are seen in films like “Toy Story 2”, “Land Of Chocolate”, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”.

The film lacks originality, but hooks you with strong visual gags and a witty script. The constant action-packed chase too becomes monotonous and a bit tedious after a while.

Visually the 3D effects and the computer generated animated images are marvellous. The animals are perfectly anthropomorphized. And the engaging voices of the ace-star cast resonate with the right blend of emotions.

“The Secret Life of Pets” is an attractive film that would appeal to pet lovers.



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