Secret Life of Pets”
While walking into a church nursery this week, I realized something
I hadn't noticed before: playing
in the background was a monitor showing an animated film.
Continuously. As if
kids expect these films to be part of the background of their lives, and
are comfortable surrounded by them. If
so, that would explain why there are so many animated films these days,
and so many aimed at children: they're
like Nintendos in a literal sense: they tend our children.
“The Secret Life of Pets” is the latest in a long line of
animated films that are targeted at young audiences, but watchable for the
adults, as well. The plot in
the classic “Toy Story” is that they toys come to life and talk to
each other when humans aren't present.
The premise here is that people's pets talk and interact with each
other when the humans leave for the day.
Taking place in New York city, it even features the pets crossing
apartment windows to visit each other.
Some, of course, are better friends than others.
Max (the voice of Louis C.K.) was perfectly happy until his owner
brought home another, bigger dog named Duke (Eric Stonestreet). Duke
bullies Max by eating his food and sleeping in his bed, but Max begins to
get even when he realizes that making a mess of things in the apartment
will be blamed on Duke, since Max already had a history of keeping
everything neat. But soon
their little rivalry is overshadowed by an adventure involving other
animals, both domesticated and not. The
animal control guys are the enemy, of course, but so are some “wild”
animals, the sewer dwellers....well, really, the plot is entirely
forgettable. The point is that
our two would-be rivals wind up becoming best buddies, much to the delight
of their mutual “owner.”
The enjoyment in the film is not only the technical advancement of
the voices and animation, but the little gags, like when a dog spots a
butterfly and shouts “Butterfly!” and all the other dogs can't help
themselves, they chase. Same
thing with a ball. And of
course they all love their homes, and can't wait for their owners to come
home. It's just that all their
talking then just comes out as barking.
It's cute, it's harmless. It's
not overloaded with charm, and the plot's a little fuzzy, but it will no
doubt be playing in the background of many a church nursery for years to