Having spent the last six-years building the Despicable Me franchise and sending the world Minions-mad, The Secret Life of Pets is the brand new concept from the people responsible for the yellow, banana-loving, pill-shaped creatures. Arguably their finest work to date, the idea is one that could be best described as “Toy Story with animals”, asking us to imagine what our beloved pets get up to when we’re not around.
Louis C.K. voices Max, a dog who is content with his comfortable life alongside his owner. However, when his owner brings home a new dog from the pound, Duke – the Buzz Lightyear to Max’s Woody – their competition to become the alpha dog leads to them becoming lost on the streets of New York. As the pair try to avoid a group of discarded, sewer-dwelling pets led by a unhinged bunny called Snowball, Max’s group of assorted animal friends join forces to find the two dogs and bring them back home.
Having succeeded in creating a buzz with a hilarious, heavily trailed teaser, I’m pleased to say that The Secret Life of Pets manages to consistently maintain the laughs beyond any of the footage we’ve seen so far. Made by animal lovers, for animal lovers, the level of detail that has gone into the little nuances of both the jokes and story is to the level you would expect from the geniuses over at Pixar.
There’s still plenty to enjoy for anybody who has never owned a pet, but all of the additional, well observed gags that hide just beneath the surface – the way in which a dog’s leg twitches when being massaged in a certain area, for example – create a sense of familiarity that will have any pet owner chuckling away.
The visuals our bright and colourful – there’s something quite hypnotic about the way in which New York is animated as an ever-growing mountain of buildings – but it is the writing that shines through brightest, as the story has a great deal of heart to go along with its many laughs.
An animated delight for any animal lover, The Secret Life of Pets is a perfect family treat. And, if that wasn’t enough to convince you to buy a ticket, it’s worth mentioning that any fan of the Minions should get there extra early so as not to miss the equally as funny short at the beginning of the film.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com