Friday, July 8, 2016

The Secret Life of Pets [2016]

MPAA (PG)  CNS/USCCB (A-I)  ChicagoTribune (3 Stars) (3 Stars)  AVClub (B)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
ChicagoTribune (S. Cohen - AP) review (B. Tallerico) review
AVClub (K. Rife) review  

The Secret Life of Pets [2016] (directed by Yarrow Cheney and Chris Renaud, screenplay by Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch) is a SAFE, FUN, CHILDREN'S ORIENTED MOVIE that _won't_ offend anyone.  Thanks be to God ;-)

Yup regardless of complexion or political orientation, pretty much all of us like our pets.   Yes we may prefer dogs to cats or cats to dogs or birds or hamsters, frogs, turtles, fish even snakes to both.   But generally speaking we like pets.  Indeed, one of the more enjoying things at our Parish has been the Annual Blessing of the Animals around St. Francis' Feast Day ;-)

So it's great to see a film about pets that's just gleefully "about our pets" without any attempt to spin the story in some strange political direction (see what I wrote about Dispicable Me 2 [2013])

To the film ... ;-)

It's gleefully about Max (voiced by Louis C.K.) a terrier mix who had been picked-up when he was a pup by his smiling 20-somthing Manhattan dwelling 20-something human owner Katie (voiced by Ellie Kemper).  And as he would tell it, theirs was a perfect relationship, until ... one day, Katie comes home with a surprise: another, now big shaggy dog named Duke (voiced by Eric Stonestreet) who she picked at the Pound both to save the "big shaggy guy" and actually to give Max "a friend" ...

Well Max didn't necessarily feel that he needed a friend.  He had Katie even though, to him inexplicably, she went to work each day.  "What does she do all day?" he would ask the other pets in the apartment building when she was away ;-).  So now he had to deal with this unwelcome addition.  (Actually anyone who's had a couple of dogs will know that the dogs don't necessarily get along initially until they "sort things out" among themselves).

So, Max and Duke are still "sorting things out" while being walked by a rather clueless "dog walker" when "one thing leads to another" and they find themselves separated from the other dogs being walked by said inattentive ipod-tune-listening "dog walker."  THAT QUICKLY GETS THE TWO INTO TROUBLE with New York's "animal control" authorities ... and the rest of the story ensues ... ;-)

After being caught by the said animal control authorities, they're initially freed by a small guerrilla band of "flushed" (they'd prefer to think of themselves as "self liberated") pets led a rather bitter former magician's "bunny" named Snowball (voiced wonderfully by Kevin Hart).  Led literally "underground" (into the sewers), they realize that they really don't fit in there, and so they break away and seek to find their way home ... on their own.

Back home, actually, a cute as a button, Pommeranian, named Gidget (voiced by Jenny Slate) who has a more or less obvious crush on Max, realizes that "Max is missing," and recruits the other pets of the apartment building to help organize a search party to look for him. 

It's not necessarily easy:  Neighbor cat, Chloe (voiced by Lake Bell), famously "doesn't particularly care (one way or another)" if Max is missing (Why? She's _a cat_ after all ;-).  And even cuter than Gidget, guinea pig Norman (voiced by Chris Renaud) while perhaps with his fast-beating heart in the right place, has himself been _hopelessly lost_ (apparently for three weeks ;-) wandering the ventilation shafts of the building trying find _his_ way home ;-).  Gitget recruits a trained Hawk named Tiberius (voiced wonderfully by Albert Brooks) living in a coop on the roof of the building to fly about to look for Max.  But Tiberius has his own inner conflict: Yes _a part of him_ would really like to be "part of the team" of pets being recruited by Gidget to look for Max.  On the other hand, _another part of him_ would really like _to eat_ "a good part of the team" Max ;-)

In the meantime, in perhaps the closest to "a Pixar moment" in this non-Pixar film, big shaggy Duke confesses to Max that he "can't go back to the pound."  Why?  "I've already been once to the Pound.  If I return there, I'm never coming out."

Again, much happens, and all is truly very, very cute.  Do the two make it home?  (I'm not gonna tell you ... but guess ... :-)

In anycase, good job!  Very, good job! ;-) 

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