The Secret Life of Pets, film review: ‘Movie from Minions studio lacks invention or wit’

The Secret Life of Pets

The Secret Life of Pets - Credit: Archant

Illumination Entertainment is the most successful animation studio you’ve never heard of.

It may not have the name, recognition or kudos of Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks or Ghibli but, thanks to the success of their Despicable Me films – in particular the Minions spin off, which is currently the 11th biggest grossing film in history – they have heaps of money. This time they are trying to prove that they can connect with audiences with something other than their malicious yellow Kinder Egg-like creatures.

There’s a charming animated short hidden away in The Secret Life of Pets about what a group of pets in New York get up to everyday once their owners are away at work.

The moment the door has closed, the veneer of faithful devotion drops and they are running wild and living it up, raiding the fridge and throwing parties.

This short even has a title: it’s called The Secret Life Of Pets Trailer.

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It is working the same jip Angry Birds did a few weeks back – cobbling together enough good bits to make a really seductive, hilarious-looking trailer, and then abandoning you in a frantic piece that drums up constant noise and activity to disguise the lack of any real invention or wit.

The film works through all the good stuff from the trailer in the first 10 minutes and after that, it has to try and find something to pass the remaining time and it comes up with a quest – two dogs get lost and the other pets go off to rescue them.

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Somewhere among all this there is an anti-human pet army lead by a cute but vicious rabbit, voiced by Kevin Hart who shouts more than Chris Evans on Top Gear. It’s around this point that you’ll probably begin to give up on the film.

To be fair, it shouldn’t be denied that there are a few good moments and good lines scattered throughout the film and technically it’s all top notch.

By the end it’s even given up on its title – the animals are driving buses around New York and causing car crashes on bridges. How exactly is that a secret life?

Rating: 2/5 stars

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