Thoughts on The Secret Life of Pets

Two film posts in a row? Am I some kind of movie review person now? Ha, no. Not unless you want to give me money to talk about films, in which case I totally am.

No, I just wanted to talk about this a little bit, since I haven’t noticed too much chatter about it. If you haven’t seen it yet, I will mention if I’m about to talk about something that is potentially a spoiler.

Okay, it’s not some hidden gem or anything. The film has made decent money in the cinema as far as I can tell. The Secret Life of Pets is a charming film by Illumination Entertainment aka. ‘those folks that did the films with Minions in them’ since not enough people watched Despicable Me.

Not going to lie, I didn’t have high hopes for the film going in. Perhaps that helped me be pleasantly surprised? I didn’t think it would be a dumpster fire or anything, it’s just that I’d gotten the impression that it would be a bit too kiddie-oriented for me. Why was it good?

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Some of the animals in the movie, accidentally watching a showing of Suicide Squad.

It’s the little things that matter to me in a film like this. You expect the plot to be nice and simple, because the kids don’t want to watch bloody Eraserhead. Well maybe some of them do, but they’re the ones you need to watch out for. So with the plot simple, you get to pay attention to the details.

For example, I loved all the mannerisms of the characters. The little behaviours the cat characters have for example are spot on. I know, cat behaviours are known to be popular. Those furry little things are crazy, thus it might be considered low-hanging fruit for entertainment.

Considering the internet’s obsession with watching animals do animal things, I’m sure no one will be surprised by say, the cat acting aloof. But they did them well. The details in the way they moved around scene to scene when not engaging in hi-jinks made me smile. The animation style is obviously cartoony, but they felt natural.

The film has plenty of background details and imaginative framing. For an admittedly simple plot and moral overall, I honestly couldn’t tell exactly where it was going at times. Some sequences caught me truly off-guard, for example the ‘sausages’ scene.

I didn’t watch trailers, so while some characters might have been revealed in them, I was pleasantly surprised at certain tropes being subverted here or there.

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Have I mentioned how great the fur looks? Everything seems huggable!

Now I’m going to briefly mention some things that I appreciated the film avoiding doing, any of which could have made the film more annoying and are quite common in things aimed at children. Mild spoilers ahoy.

  • They didn’t spend too much time with the main characters falling out or being too whiny at each other. There were some emotional bits, but it wasn’t annoying self-pity and so on.
  • They didn’t make the language used overly euphemism-filled. I mean, they talk about people/animals potentially getting killed in so many occasions in this film. I was actually surprised they used the word ‘killed’ at all!
  • The girl dog didn’t get kidnapped or be useless, and was great.
  • They didn’t have a big ‘misunderstanding’ scene. You know the one. Where some character tells a lie, or goes along with a misunderstanding, and then when it’s discovered there’s the big walk out and hurt feelings and stuff. That scene that’s in SO MANY THINGS. They didn’t do that here, even though they looked like they might go in that direction.
  • They weren’t afraid to have juuuust enough danger for it to be exciting/slightly scary for kids. The best Disney movies also have these moments, enough to get the heart racing in a little kid. I’m sure it will be lost somewhat outside of 3D cinema, but that initiation scene though. 

Anyway, that’s everything. I would recommend if you want some nice, easy smiles. I’m not going to say you’d be *heartless* not to enjoy it at least a little bit, but you might want to make absolutely certain you are alive if you don’t.

Ciao for now!

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