Photos courtesy of Universal Picutres
*minor spoilers ahead*
The Secret Life of Pets features Max (Louis C.K.), a Jack Russell terrier who simply looks forward to spending time with her owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) every single day. His life gets turned upside down when one day, Katie brings home Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a large, shaggy mutt from the pound. They unwillingly embark on an adventure together, where they get to meet Snowball (Kevin Hart), a fluffy white rabbit hell-bent on human “destruction.”
It’s quite amusing that the film accurately portrays how the animals are like in real life, down to the simplest quirk (albeit sometimes with exaggeration). Chloe (Lake Bell) is a tabby cat who doesn’t really care a lot of things but is obsessed with food. She and Max have a friendly rivalry about who are the better pets, cats or dogs. She laughs at how Max and his dog friends go ballistic over a ball, but becomes silly herself when she sees a red laser dot.
Gidget (Jenny Slate), a pomeranian who has a huge crush on Max, displays intense bravery and ferociousness in the face of adversity. The elderly basset hound called Pops (Dana Carvey) uses his sense of smell to lead Max’s merry friends. Oh and yeah, Mel the Pug (Bobby Moynihan) is adorable of course, much like internet sensation Doug the Pug! Tattoo (Michael Beattie), Snowball’s pig sidekick, demonstrates how pigs are underrated and are actually intelligent. Although somehow out of place, the hawk who becomes Gidget’s friend, Tiberius (Albert Brooks), initially acts very predatory.
Aside from humorously addressing the issue of what pets do when you’re away, The Secret Life of Pets tackles a lot of important issues when it comes to our furry friends. Are they really capable of grasping the concept of death, rage, revenge, love, loss and loyalty, or do we just project these towards them?
Other issues include unloved and discarded pets, owners dying before their pets, pets and their relationships with fellow animals (whether pets or strays), paralysis (Pops and his wheels), pets as people pleasers (poodle who likes heavy metal but pretends to like classical when his owner is around), and pets accidentally getting lost and forgetting their way home. It’s actually very inclusive of The Secret Life of Pets to make Duke a mutt. Most of the dog movies we have tend to feature dogs with breeds as leads, and this film manages to break down this barrier. It also promotes adopting shelter dogs instead of always opting for puppies, since all of them deserve a forever home (no matter how old).
Despite being a talking animal movie, it seems to not have created much of a following here in the Philippines. Stats aren’t available yet, but its delayed release here is already telling of the level of demand. Does it have anything to do with the different pet-owner dynamic in the country? Maybe. Dog walkers aren’t really prevalent here, and pets usually stay outside (and guard a bungalow house) instead of staying inside an apartment. Usage of collars is also not widespread enough. Still, The Secret Life of Pets is a pet lovers’ paradise and is a must-watch for anyone who loves animals.
Although there were scenes like the sausage dream and the truck-bridge scene that would make you smile stupidly, The Secret Life of Pets is a highly intelligent film, unlike its sister movie Minions (There’s a Minions short at the start, which made me suddenly compare the two). I’m pleased that as of this writing, the film has earned more than $720 million worldwide with just a $75 million budget (stats from boxofficemojo.com).
In The Secret Life of Pets, unloved and forgotten pets fight back. However, this is simply not the case in real life. Even if sometimes abandoned, they are always waiting for a human to be their best friend. So please, pat your cat’s head, scratch your dog’s belly, and just be happy that we live in a world where there are pets, and that’s no secret.