The Secret Life of Pets centers on Max. He’s a canine version of an only child. Max dotes on his human Katie. She’s the center of his world, and Max thinks he’s the center of hers until Katie brings home big, furry and lumbering Duke.
A short battle of dog wills ensues that ends with both canines collarless and loose on the streets of New York. They are captured by dog catchers, and then freed by a gang of castoff animals. Max and Duke immediately get sideways of the gang and have to flee for their lives.
In the meantime, Max’s friends, led by the darling Gidget — who has a huge crush on him — organize a rescue.
The Secret Life of Pets is written and directed by the team that gave you Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2. Directors Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney, and writers Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch, give you average looking animation, predictable characters and — in much of the film — an ordinary story. Lots of bark, not much bite.
And my pet peeve? Not much in The Secret Life of Pets is a secret. The producers have peppered us with the characters in commercials for products and in trailers for the past six-weeks. They contain many of the film’s funniest scenes.
Many, but not all.
While plenty of Pets is predictable, most of the first 30 minutes is fresh and funny. Pieces of the middle of Pets are also entertaining. The last third? Not so much.
‘The Secret Life of Pets’
Directors: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
Stars: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Albert Brooks, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Steve Coogan
Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars
Rated PG for mature themes. It’s playing at the Carmike 12, Regal’s Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and Queensgate 12, and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.