The Secret Life of Pets Parent Review

After introducing the creative premise, the plot becomes as hyperactive and directionless as a new puppy.

Overall B-

Do you know what your pet does while you're away? This animation about a group of cats, dogs, bunnies, etc. living in Manhattan depicts some of those mysterious and surprising goings-on.

Violence B-
Sexual Content B+
Profanity A-
Substance Use A-

The Secret Life of Pets is rated PG for action and some rude humor.

Movie Review

Have you ever wondered what your pet does while you’re away? Imagining an answer to that question appears to be the inspiration for this animation. Likewise, the opening few minutes of The Secret Life of Pets shows some very funny ways dogs, cats, birds and a lost guinea pig find to amuse themselves during those long, lonely hours. But after introducing that creative premise the story sort of peters out of original ideas.

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Focusing mostly on Max (voice of Louis C.K.), a patchy pooch devoted to his owner Katie (voice of Ellie Kemper), things really begin the day she comes home with an unwelcomed surprise – a large scraggy stray named Duke (voice of Eric Stonestreet). Jealousy starts immediately as the forced roommates attempt to establish who will be the alpha dog.

This rivalry eventually gets the pair lost in the streets of New York City where they meet up with the Flushed Pets Gang. Led by a nasty bunny (voice of Kevin Hart), these scrappy survivors are intent on getting vengeance on the humans who have abandoned and/or abused them. (Some of the members of this group are shown with muzzles or cages stuck on them.) Max and Duke quickly realize their only hope for escaping from the unsavory sewer-dwellers is learning to work together. Unbeknownst to either of them, a rescue mission is being launched from home by Max’s neighborhood friends: Gidget a feisty white puffball (voice of Jenny Slate), a dachshund known as Buddy (voice of Hannibal Buress), a pug named Mel (voice of Bobby Moynihan), a fat cat called Chloe (voice of Lake Bell) and an unlikely ally—Tiberius a bird of prey (voice of Albert Brooks). Meanwhile a pair of animal control officers are ready to catch the lot of them.

With a plot as hyperactive and directionless as a new puppy, the frenetic action bounces between scenes of silly antics and crude pet behavior (such as sniffing/licking private body parts and urinating/defecating), to dangerous situations and terrifying bad guys (some with intentions to kill or eat others). Although sexual innuendo and profanities are happily almost non-existent, this screenplay is still hard to recommend because older audiences will likely find it too juvenile, while little ones are sure to be frightened.

As well, seasoned movie goers are certain to recognize how this script has borrowed from other productions. For instance, Toy Story depicts the secret life of playthings, Bolt follows a group of animals trying to find their way home, Hoodwinked stars another raging rabbit, and An American Tale is also set in NYC with villains who hide out in the sewers.

Pet owners will perhaps be the best bet for fans of this film. They are the most likely to be able to relate to the way people dote over their four-legged children, and to chuckle at the outlandish behavior these trusted companions could be up to during the daylight hours when their masters disappear.

Directed by Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney. Starring Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Albert Brooks, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell. Running time: 90 minutes. Theatrical release July 8, 2016. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Secret Life of Pets here.

The Secret Life of Pets Parents Guide

What do you think your pet does while you are away from home? Is it nearly as exciting as the activities portrayed here? Why do you think these trusty companions are always excited when you return?

Not all pets are treated with love and care. What types of abuse are depicted in this movie? What can be done to insure animals are treated humanely? Although the dog catchers are portrayed as bad guys in this animation, what role do they really play in keeping humans and animals safe? Did you know that you can look for volunteer opportunities at your local animal shelter?

Related news about The Secret Life of Pets

2016 Summer Movies for Families

2016 Summer Movies for Families

Coming to a theater near you in the summer of 2016.