By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s review is one for the summer holidays and for the youth that have broken up from school. I popped along to my local cinema, Phoenix Leicester, to catch this family-fun film at the weekend.
Kids were really excited for this film, but to tell you the truth, so was I. Let’s be honest, we would all like to know what our pets do behind our backs and this film is the closest thing we have to that.
A cluster of stars are on hand to lend their voices to the four and two –legged animals as we follow a day in the life of our pets…
The folks on two legs leave for work and school as the pets begin their own routine. Max the terrier (voiced by Louis C.K), is convinced he has the perfect relationship with his owner until his pampered life is rocked when she brings home Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a massive mongrel with a bullish attitude. However, the canine duo must unite together to survive big, bad New York when a fluffy yet evil rabbit named Snowball (Kevin Hart) who is building an army of stray animals to take the world from humanity… everyone loves a bit of light-hearted fun!
The Secret Life of Pets is brought to us by the Despicable Me and Minions producers as they finally answer the question ‘what are our pets doing while we are away?’ Disney is still smashing 2016 with Zootropolis, The Jungle Book, Finding Dory and The BFG but ‘TSLOP’ is a great addition to the former list and certainly putting Illumination on the map.
The film’s narrative is straight-forward in terms of the backbone. The main protagonists are in danger, the sidekicks help to get them free and then everything ends all singing and dancing; but the little bits in-between really impress me. You can tell that the writers have thought deeply about this film in regards to the animals and their characteristics. The best thing about Pets is the characters as each animal has something unique to bring to the story. There are a lot of pets in this film but the writers are smart enough to recognise which ones to keep around.
Pets is a journey film rather than a destination film. It is set up as a ‘destination’ piece as the dog duo are trying to find their way home but in reality they are on a journey to become friends as their friendship is non-existent at the beginning. For me, the most similar film to this is Zootopia. Both these movies have a lot of characters with a journey story but where Zootopia flies and Pets dips is the deeper narrative aspect. Zootopia delves into the gritty social issues a bit more, obviously in a kid-friendly way, but Pets avoids this. If Pets could go a little deeper but keep all the silly jokes and funny scenes within, it would be a top film.
The best sequences are when the pets are in the homes; this is when cinema-goers will be most intrigued as that’s where our actual pets stay most of the time. It’s great when a fat cat fits into tiny objects just like in real-life; the writers take elements from reality and make the adaption here. The huge house party that a wise, older dog throws is also hilarious but pet-rifying (get it?) if that actually happens behind closed doors.
The movie is clearly aimed at children but it’s actually a ‘people film’. The intelligent thing about Pets is that we can all relate to it. We all have pets or at least know someone that has. The audience therefore is huge and I expect the box office figures to replicate that. Sadly, this film will be trumped by other animations in 2016 but it will definitely be respected. Finding Dory and the gang will take the headlines but this plucky movie should certainly be in that crowd. It doesn’t quite top Zootropolis but it’s definitely a hoot.
Cineroom’s Rating: 3.5 Stars
The Secret Life of Pets is currently showing at the Phoenix Leicester for the rest of the working week – certificate PG
From Adam Ray Palmer, the Editor-in-Chief.
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