The Secret Life of Pets directed by Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney:
For an animated film to be successful there are three key elements – story, animation and voice work. They all have to be clicking or the end result will be disappointing. Animation is going through a high point in its history. Partially because of the technological advances and what they are able to do in the medium but also because more time and attention are being paid to making them. One of the studios taking up the charge is Illumination Entertainment, who is the one behind the Despicable Me and Minion films. Now they are turning towards animals or more specifically pets for their latest film.
Just like when you bring a new baby into a family, a new pet in a household turns the whole order of things on its head. Max (voiced by Louis C.K.) has always been the favourite pet of Katie’s (voiced by Ellie Kemper). Things change completely for terrier Max when stray mutt Duke (voiced by Eric Stonestreet) is thrown into the mix. Max is threatened by the new furball and it is war.
Things go from bad to worse when one day while out with their walker, Max and Duke become separated from the human and find themselves on their own on the chaotic streets of Manhattan. The two have several run-ins and meetings with other animals like street rabbit Snowball (voiced by Kevin Hart), who brings them to an underground lair filled with discarded animals. Snowball is gathering these troops of cats, dogs, alligators and snakes to wage a war against humans.
This film is destined to make plenty of money at the box office this summer. It has everything going for it. Weak competition and it is funny and furry. The best thing about the film is the voices supplied by the comedic actors involves. Besides Kemper, Hart and Louis C.K. there are strong moments by Jenny Slate, Lake Bell, Hannibal Burress, Dana Carvey and Albert Brooks. Each brings out a particular element, emotion or shtick that serves the character well. All of them have great comedic sensibilities and timing so the fact that they do well in film like this comes as no surprise.
Its strongest section is the beginning when it introduces all the characters to us and shows us what our pets do all day long while we are gone to work or school. A lot of household items or appliances are used in unique ways. There is plenty of clever humour or ways of looking at the way humans treat animals. Kids and parents alike will find themselves laughing a lot at the silly sight gags and one liners. The weakest moments are when the directors focus on chase scenes after zany, frenetic chase scene. Occasionally it becomes too busy and overwhelming.
The Secret Lives of Pets 2 directed by Chris Renaud and Jonathan del Val:
The calibre and quality of animated films has risen steadily with several of them recently being considered for Oscar nominations. As such expectations are elevated. We used to let a lot slide when it came to animated films as they were thought of as just for kids. Now they are seen as for all ages. So weak storylines are no longer tolerated.
A follow up to the original film out of the Illumination/Universal animation stable, The Secret Lives of Pets 2 cashes in on the engaging and hilarious idea of getting an inside look at what our pets are thinking and feeling. The bond between humans and their pets is a strong one. One in which people will pay money to watch on the big screen their hijinx.
Not as good as the first yet still I had a good time watching it. Plenty of cute one liners, silly situations and astute observations about animals and the way they behave. Plus there is so much comedic talent here it is almost an embarrassment of riches. Kevin Hart, Ellie Kemper, Patton Oswalt, Eric Stonestreet, Tiffany Haddish, Jenny Slate, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Burress, Bobby Moynihan, Lake Bell, Nick Kroll, and even Harrison Ford all provide voices here.
Every day when humans leave their homes to go to school, work or just out, it leaves their pets behind…alone. Finally able to do as they wish and talk amongst themselves. Live their lives as they wish. This is their story.
A big change has happened in the life of Max the terrier (voiced by Patton Oswalt). His owner Katie (voiced by Ellie Kemper) has gotten married. Plus had a baby. Now he is being taken on a road trip to the countryside. There he meets a farm dog named Rooster (voiced by Harrison Ford). The two dogs realize they have something in common – fears.
Meanwhile, back in the city plenty is happening. Gidget (voiced by Jenny Slate) is trying to get Max’s favourite toy back from an apartment overrun with cats. Snowball (voiced by Kevin Hart), who now thinks he is a superhero, puts in his mind…or maybe Daisy (voiced by Tiffany Haddish) does, that he is going to rescue a white tiger from the circus.
Facing your fears is the big message here. Being courageous is the path to overcoming them.
Disc 1 – The Secret Life of Pets:
-The Humans That Brought You Pets
-Animals Can Talk: Meet the Actors
-All About the Pets
-Hairstylist to the Dogs
-The Best of Snowball
-“Lovely Day” Lyric Video
-Hot Dog Sing-Along
-Brian the Minion on Pets
-Go-Pro: The Secret Life of Pets
Disc 2 – The Secret Life of Pets 2:
-The Making of the Mini-Movies
-Deleted Scene – Waking Up
-Deleted Scene – Snowball Karate
-A Tapestry of a Tail – The Making of
-How to Draw
-Frame by Frame – How to Make a Flip Book
-The Further Adventures of Captain Snowball
-A Party Fit for a Pet
-Pop’s Puppy Training School with Kevin Hart
-Pet’s Yule Log