The Secret Life of Pets

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Release date: 24th June 2016/Watch the trailer here

If you’ve ever owned a pet in your life, then you’ll find something to love and laugh at in The Secret Life of Pets. From the creators of Despicable Me, the premise behind their latest animated caper is what our furry (or feathered) friends get up to when we’re not around. The story follows Max (Louis C.K.), a dog whose life is turned upside down when his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) brings home a new dog, Duke (Eric Stonestreet).

Unfortunately, for every clever quip there is about the traits of cats and dogs (many of which we’ve already seen in the original teaser trailer that dropped over a year ago), there’s a standard, formulaic plot to hold back The Secret Life of Pets‘ potential.

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Max and Duke must put aside their differences after they got lost in New York City, while neighbouring pup Gidget (Jenny Slate) leads their friends on a rescue mission which is scuppered by a gang of anti-pet, anti-human animals led by a deceptively adorable rabbit called Snowball (Kevin Hart) – and where the plot goes from there isn’t difficult to figure out.

It’s easy to forget that this is, at the end of the day, a children’s film, but after Inside Out and Zootropolis, both of which had original, intelligent storylines and an important message alongside the family-friendly laughs, The Secret Life of Pets seems a little like a missed opportunity.

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Still, if you enjoy The Secret Life of Pets for what it is, there’s a lot of fun to be had. The voice cast is excellent – Kevin Hart, in particular, is hilarious as Snowball, the spurned magician’s white rabbit – and the characters themselves are fresh and loveable. It’s these characters, along with a sharp script and more jokes than you can shake a stick at, that make up for the familiar formula, but don’t expect to find much emotion hidden within the manic ninety minute runtime.

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★★★

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