The Despicable Me films and even its spin-off Minions are some of my most recent favorite animated entries out there. So anything that the studio behind them, Illumination Entertainment, puts out there, I have to see it. That brings us to their latest film making its way to the home video market, The Secret Life of Pets, that was given to me for review in 4K UHD no less. Anyone who owns or has loved a pet and even those who haven’t are sure to love the funny animals hijinks that ensue here, and will want to watch this a couple of times with the family that comes along just in time for the holidays.
Our main character Max (Louis C.K.) is a dog who has a perfect life with his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper). They play, eat, and have fun together nearly all the time until she decides to take in a dog from the pound named Duke (Eric Stonestreet). Like any dog would, Max becomes a tad jealous and isn’t feeling this new addition to his life at all, and for good reason as Duke tries to intimidate Max at first but then the tables are turned back in Max’s favor soon enough. Just when it looks like the two are going to do each other in, a crazy turn of events has them being locked up by some dog catchers. They’re soon freed by a crazed, people-hating bunny named Snowball (voiced hilariously by Kevin Hart) that leads a group of unwanted pets in an underground sewer lair that are on a mission to get rid of humans. Meanwhile, a cute dog who loves Max named Gidget (Jenny Slate) is out looking for who took Max away, and it’s up to her and some animal friends from the neighborhood to band together and find Duke and Max, while having one zany mishap after another of course.
While it not be as well thought out or amazing as the Despicable Me films are (a lot of people have compared it to a Toy Story ripoff, and they’re sort of right), I did have a good time watching this one. The laughs are spread out a bit, but when they come, they’re hilarious. Like the poodle that loves death metal music and kicks over furniture while rocking out, and of course Kevin Hart being himself as Snowball who laughs so hard maniacally that he poops bunny pellets. I loved the hawk named Tiberius that Albert Brooks voices and how he’s constantly resisting the urge to kill and eat Gidget and her animal friends after she frees him from his cage. All in all, it’s a fun movie that everyone should take a look at, especially with its nice 4K UHD visuals and audio here that really do bring the movie theater experience home if you have the setup for it.
When you’re done getting the pets back home, there’s a few special features waiting to be let out of their cages for you. “The Humans That Brought You Pets” features a couple of interviews with directors Yarrow Cheney and Chris Renaud, as well as writer Brian Lynch and producers Janet Healy and Chris Meledandri as they discuss how the movie came to be and their takes on it. “Animals Can Talk: Meet the Actors” is a short but fun look behind the scenes of the actors bringing the characters to life, while “All About the Pets” has actors Eric Stonestreet and Kevin Hart teaming up with an animal trainer and looking at some various animals. There are a few more extras as well, but the real stand out ones are the Mini-Movies included here titled “NormanTV,” “Weenie,” and “Mower Minions” that are sure to please viewers and their families who love Illumination Entertainment’s characters. As an extra bonus, there’s a behind the scenes featurette about the mini-movies featured on here as well.
I recommend The Secret Life of Pets to those who love animals and animated films. It may not be the best one out there, but it is one of the most zany and fun ones I’ve seen that families will want to get the leash and take on some walks to their 4K setup time and again.