MMT Quick Review: THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS (with junior contributor Jayla)

The Secret Life of_Pets (photo: Universal Pictures)

Happy Saturday MMT Fam! Little Miss Jayla joined me last week to check out the new feature film THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS, which opened on Friday, July 9. The movie is from the same creative team behind the hit animated film “Despicable Me”and, with an expected 95 million draw (as of Saturday morning) this weekend, seems to be well on its way to living up to its predecessor.

“The Secret Life of Pets” follows lead character Max (comedian/writer Louis C. K.), a terrier who is living the life when his owner is home but especially when she’s gone – with pets in his apartment building and others in the neighborhood visiting, partying and getting into antics frequently. Max’s happy life is interrupted when his human brings home the most unexpected – and unwelcome – thing, another dog named Duke (actor/writer Eric Stonestreet). Duke is (at least) three times the size of Max, and is a rescue from the local pound. The rivalry between Max and Duke boils over during a walk to the park, and leads the pair on a hilarious chase, capture, and rescue caper.

Since our last outing, Jayla has turned a year older – so you are now officially receiving the opinion of a four-year-old! And, as with Kung Fu Panda 3, she was really engrossed in the story. It’s always a pleasure to watch her reactions to various themes in a film, and the more emotional a scene became in this one, the more immersed she was. “The Secret Life of Pets” is playful, and at one point a bit melancholy, with its highlight of lost, unwanted, and “throw away” pets – and Jayla certainly was able to pick up on that.

Speaking of throwaway, certainly one of the biggest thrills of the movie is the bunny Snowball, who leads an underground gang of pets (The Throwaways) and is hilariously voiced by actor/comedian Kevin Hart. I think the voice-over casting is one of the things that worked very well for this film, especially having the aforementioned comedians/comedy writers in addition to comedians Hannibal Buress  (Buddy), Dana Carvey (Pops) and actor Albert Brooks (Tiberius) – the latter whose voice is more readily recognizable as Marlin from “Finding Nemo” fame.

The natural timing of the actors, along with the silly gags, is enough to make “The Secret Life of Pets” fun and enjoyable for people of all ages – although I did feel the film became overly silly at points in the latter half, which works well for kids but not so much for the big kids, aka adults, as it errs on the side of corny.

And even though I felt the dogs anecdotes were spot on, I’m still waiting for a film that truly gets cats right! Yes, I’m proud cat lady, and the movie does the Western-view feline thing – you know, cats aren’t really interested in their humans, yada, yada, yada – but I can’t honestly say that wasn’t expected. So, consider this an invitation to meet my “furry gangsters” to writers of the next animated film with cats- as I’m sure you will walk away with a completely different experience, trust! 😉

Overall, I thought “The Secret Life of Pets” was an enjoyable watch, and would recommend it for kids of all ages. And at the end of the movie, Jayla gave her four-year-old thumbs up by saying that she enjoyed, “All of it!”


MMT contributor Jayla (photo: M. Noll)
MMT contributor Jayla (photo: M. Noll)

Jayla is MMT’s kid contributor, and Thomasena’s self-described “littlest Gemini bestie.” Her favorite colors are purple and pink, and she enjoys Minnie Mouse and Snoopy.


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