When pooch Max’s owner Katie brings a huge rescue dog named Duke home to their Manhattan apartment, he’s not very impressed. Things only get worse when the pair accidentally end up on the streets without their collars, at the mercy of both Animal Control and an army of former pets led by evil rabbit Snowball. Do you think the two mismatched dogs will eventually get along so that they can work together and find their way safely home?
Opening with a terrific montage of what pets really get up to when we’re out of the house (a sausage dog getting a massage from an electric whisker, a posh poodle rocking out to heavy metal, etc), this animated comedy adventure moves into very familiar territory in what is essentially a furry twist on the plot of Toy Story. Like Woody and Buzz, Max and Duke are opposites who don’t want to share a home and find themselves having to tolerate each other to get out of danger but – and this is the main flaw with the movie – neither of the pups are as likeable as those beloved toys. And you do question the intelligence of Katie, for bringing a humungous Duke to her little apartment when she already has a pet.
Luckily, there are plenty of visual gags and fun moments to distract us – barking mad bunny Snowball (Hart) is a scream, and some of the supporting characters are adorable, from besotted Pomeranian Gidget to lazy puss Chloe and elderly Bassett Hound Pops (“You may have lots of time,” he puffs, “but for me, every breath is a cliffhanger.”). Together they deliver some of the best moments as they go to the rescue of the dogs with the help of a rather hungry falcon (who may scare very young kids).
While adults may feel a sense of déjà vu throughout (there are a lot of scenes that will remind you of other movies as well as Toy Story and its sequels), kids will enjoy this fluffy, cute movie and will no doubt be requesting their own puppy/kitten/psychotic rabbit by the end credits.
Is The Secret Life Of Pets suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
While this has a U certificate in the UK, there are some scenes that may upset very young children:
The scene in which Gidget meets the falcon on the roof may scare the under-7s, especially as she walks on the discarded bones of his dinners.
Younger viewers may also be frightened by the scenes in the sewers when Duke and Max go back to Snowball’s lair, especially when they see the snake and alligator (and especially if watching in 3D when the snake comes out of the screen).