ReelBob: ‘The Secret Life of Pets’

By Bob Bloom

“The Secret Life of Pets” is a cute and funny animated feature that rushes by as quickly as the wagging tail of an excited puppy.

You don’t have to be a pet lover — or even a pet owner — to enjoy this frivolous and exaggerated tale of what dogs, cats, birds and other so-called domesticated animals do while their masters are away.

The movie centers on Max (voiced by Louis C.K.), a happy little dog who adores his owner, Katie. When she leaves for work, he does nothing but eagerly wait by the door for her return.

Max is rather spoiled, enjoying having his master all to himself. But one day, Katie comes home with a surprise — Duke (voiced by Eric Stonestreet) — a big shaggy dog that begins pushing Max around when Katie is not around.

The constant bickering between the two dogs gets them in trouble when dogcatchers and a rebel cadre of owner-free animals living in the sewers pursue them.

Max and Duke simply want to return to the safety of Katie’s apartment, but have lost their way.

Meanwhile, their animal friends in the apartment building, led by the madly-in-love-with-Max Gidget (voiced by Jenny Slate), set out to find and rescue the dogs.

It’s all colorful fun, even if the story is slight. The film is nonstop action, which will keep the youngsters engrossed.

The movie also offers a slight sense of danger, as well as providing a few mild scary moments.

The animated antics of the various animals, as well as their interactions, drive the movie from sequence to sequence.

One of the pleasures is the vocal performance of Kevin Hart as Snowball, the cute bunny, who portrays the tough leader of the anti-human resistance.

The feature offers an imaginative picture of the havoc pets can create when their humans are not around. The movie satirizes the pet-human relationship in a charming and somewhat biting manner.

It is as if pets con and manipulate their owners into a sense of false security, so when left alone, dogs can tear up the furniture and cats can raid the refrigerator — all with impunity.

The menagerie of other animals that either help or hinder Max and Duke include alligators, birds of prey, hamsters, rats and snakes.

It makes you want to keep away from sewers and drainpipes because you never know what will pop out of them.

“The Secret Life of Pets” is filled with sight gags and one-liners. But most of all, beating beneath all the mayhem, is heart and devotion.

After seeing the movie, you will want to go home and hug your pet — or perhaps decide to go get one.

Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.

THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS
3 stars out of 4
(PG), rude humor, action

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