The Secret Life of Pets

3.5 Stars

When the owners go out for the day, the animals come out to play. Among those less likely to play, though, is Max (Louis C.K.), who has a great relationship with his owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper), and is well-liked by neighboring pets – particularly Gidget (Jenny Slate), the dog across the street. When Katie brings home a new dog named Duke (Eric Stonestreet), though, Max tries to show who’s the boss.

Illumination is carving out an interesting space in the animation field. Its stories may not have the depth of Disney or Pixar, but we don’t need every studio to try for that. What Illumination is good at doing is creating fun animated films. The stories aren’t always perfect (or even good, as Minions unfortunately proved), but they’re undeniably enjoyable, and they make surprisingly good use of their voice casting. I mean, we’re talking about an animated film here that’s led by Louis C.K., for children, and it’s a remarkably good casting choice. There are plenty of jokes, both verbal and physical, to entertain kids and adults alike, and it’s timely without instantly dating itself. I’m curious to see where Illumination goes from here, but so far, their track record is at least enjoyable. Considering how other non-Disney/Pixar studios are doing these days, that’s not nothing.

The Secret Life of Pets • Rating: PG (for action and some rude humor) • Runtime: 121 minutes • Genre: Family • Cast: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate • Director: Ron Howard • Writer: Charles Leavitt • Distributor: Universal/Illumination
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