This was one area of life, literally in the backyard, waiting to be explored. In lighter moments, don't we wonder if our pets spoke in a language we understood, what would they say? How would they spend their time when we leave them alone at home for a greater part of the day? Would their friends come over and eat up all the food you left in the fridge? Would they head-bang to heavy metal instead of classical music you left switched on in the background? Do they have, well, secret lives?
The Secret Life of Pets (TSLP)—a crisp 90-minute animation about pets and their lives set in New York when the humans aren't around—addresses these genuine human queries.
A terrier named Max (Louis C.K.) has been living a fairytale existence with his human owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) and other pets in the neighbourhood—Chloe (Lake Bell), the greedy tabby cat, Gidget (Jenny Slate), a princessy pomeranian who has a crush on Max, and others, Mel, Buddy and Sweet Pea—till one day Katie brings home Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a gigantic sloppy dog, who takes over Max's bed, bowl, and peace of mind.
In a proverbial 'let's fight this outside' episode during their evening walk, Max and Duke find themselves roughed up by Ozone, local alley cat goon (don't miss his pronounced British accent) and chased down by the animal pound officials. Till Snowbell (Kevin Hart), the bunny leader, and his allies, ousted from the human-pet circuit, arrive on the scene and rescue them in the process of busting out one of their own. Max and Duke, who posed as 'human killers' to Snowbell are then taken into the sewers to be inducted into their underground rebellion called 'the flushed pets'.
As Max and Duke escape from Snowbell's revenge-on-the-humans cult, they find themselves in Brooklyn where Max pushes Duke to find his former owner and in the process their equation begins to thaw. When Gidget, brought up on fluffy romance films and sweet treats from her owners, finds out the love of her life has gone missing, brings their friends to launch a mission to bring him back. They enlist the help of Pops (Dana Carvey) the well-heeled and well-connected old, paralysed Bassett Hound who knows everything about the underground. (Don't miss his flirtation with Chloe, retorting with charm, “not everyone is perfect” when she tells him she's a cat.)
What follows is a hilarious, action adventure, with Dainty Gidget switching into super girl avatar, bashing up bad boys on Brooklyn Bridge for the sake of Max, turning the tough man rescuing his lady love notion on its head. The friendship between foes, Max and Duke, blossoming during their jaunt in the sausage factory, jointly escaping animal pound officials and Snowbell's group, is heart-warming. Snowbell's character switches between adorable bunny and evil rabbit is like a hark to the meek shall inherit the earth. Chloe, the proverbial apathetic cat, telling Max, “as your friend I don't really care about you or your problems”, playing coolly with a toy rat is funny.
If Hollywood animations seemed to be repetitive lately, then TSLP comes armed with plenty of laughs. Pet owner or not, irrespective of age, this one is sure to appeal to your lighter side.
Film: The Secret Life of Pets
Directors: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
Cast: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Micheal Beattie
Rating: 3.5 / 5