Review: The Secret Life of Pets, B-
Rated PG, 87 minutes
If you've ever wondered what goes on with your pets when you're not at home, the colorful, cheerful animated comedy "The Secret Life of Pets," from the makers of the "Despicable Me" films, seeks to answer that and more. It's all rather silly, predictable stuff, but the charming voice cast makes it works and there's some admittedly funny moments. Max (Louis C.K.) is a spoiled terrier who enjoys a comfortable life in a New York building until his owner adopts Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a giant and unruly canine. During their walk outside, they encounter a group of ferocious alley cats and wind up in a truck that's bound for the pound. Luckily, a rebellious rabbit named Snowball (Kevin Hart) swoops in to save the doggy duo from captivity. In exchange, Snowball demands that Max and Duke join his gang of abandoned pets on a mission against the humans who've done them wrong. Directed by "Despicable Me's" Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney and co-written by Brian Lynch, Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, "The Secret Life of Pets" is sure to be a hit with the young set, especially if you enjoy talking animals and animals who drive cars. It's fast-paced and filled with some funny moments especially when the pets are at home, though the thin middle act seems mostly like filler as Max and Duke get lost and must work together to find their way home. Louis C.K. and Stonestreet are a good pairing, though they're upstaged by other actors, including Hart as the little bunny - and while I'm generally not a fan of his live-action comedy - he's an inspired touch, as is Lake Bell as an obese cat, Jenny Slate as a white Pomeranian who has eyes for Max, "Finding Nemo's" Albert Brooks as a hawk, and my favorite, "Saturday Night Live" vet Dana Carvey as an elderly, paralyzed basset hound who runs the town. The themes are friendship, working together and having fun are ever present (as they usually are in these types of things), but don't expect a Disney/Pixar level of story and characters. The makers of the film also add a few small nods to "Despicable Me" and "The Minions," see if you catch those, and there's a fun Minions short, called "Mower Minions," before the movie. The entertaining "The Secret Life of Pets" is simple, predictable and silly fun, don't expect much, but you'll still have a good time.