#22: The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

Director: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
Animated, Comedy
1h30min; PG

⭐ ⭐

You see that bunny? That bunny is voiced by Kevin Hart who puts out a gaga-bajillion films out every year. You’d think that he is funny as a bunny- what a rhyme- but he is anything but and the only funny person in The Secret Life of Pets, a film that is lead by Louis C.K., Lake Bell, Eric Stonestreet, Ellie Kemper, Dana Carvey, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress and Albert Brooks is Obvious Child‘s Jenny Slate. She has two nice moments. Goddamn it this is a gargantuan waste of talent.

While the film is pretty, an animated love letter to NYC set to Taylor Swift’s 1989 opener “Welcome to New York”, the script is nothing beautiful. The story goes that Max (C.K. as a terrier) loves his owner Katie (Kemper). One day Kate brings home a colossal shaggy snuffleupagus of a mut named Duke (Stonestreet) who turns out to be a bit of an asshole and will do anything to keep out of the pound. Max don’t like it and Duke don’t like Max so the snuffleupagus kidnaps him. Very soon the pair are lost in the Big Apple and it’s about as interesting as watching a cat lick its own ass, which occurs a few times in the film. Just kidding. It’s still not very fun though.

Jenny Slate’s Gidget is music to my soul.

Slate plays a white pomeranian named Gidget who swoons for Max. These advances are not returned. Her undying devotion leads to a half-cocked rescue mission with the help of a douchey red-tailed hawk (Brooks). What’s funny is the fantasy Gidget has of being friends with the hawk. She rides on his back as they scour the city in search of unfortunate squirrels to kill. Her maniacal laughter during this brief sequence is music to my soul. It’s the only part of the film that touches me. Perhaps there was another way to phrase that but I’m going to let it hang there.

The day’s agenda is to adopt more animals and perhaps have them spayed or neutered. The only thing in the film that really sticks are the visuals, particularly the beautiful fur seen everywhere. Duke’s brown hair is breathtaking at times and while this aspect of the film was full of wonder it doesn’t hold a candle to the hair technology displayed by Pixar in recent years (mainly Brave). The film’s trailers offer a lighthearted and entertaining romp through New York with some cuddly, quirky creatures and if you have younglings it’s not a bad idea. At no point does the film rise above an elementary school level and that’s a shame considering the absolute ocean of talent attached to the film. The Secret Life of Pets smells of dogshit and money.

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