I’ll let you into a little secret about animated movies; most of them have exactly the same plot.
You know the one; the main character somehow gets separated from his home and he or she must make their way back, meeting some goofy sidekick along the way and then overcoming some kind of obstacle/learning some life lesson in the end.
But at least some of them try to approach it from different angles. Take Inside Out for example; it tells that basic plot but is sufficiently different in theme so that you don’t just think you’re watching Toy Story, The Lion King or Finding Nemo again.
The Secret Life of Pets though doesn’t try; it’s just Toy Story with pets and without charm.
For Woody there’s Max, for Buzz Lightyear there’s Duke and for all the other miscellaneous characters there are other pets. Hell, there’s even a sausage dog.
And it’s also stupid. While I’m not trying to suggest that Toy Story is realistic, if you accept that the toys come alive when nobody is looking, the stuff that happens in the trilogy becomes feasible. In The Secret Life of Pets, while it initially works in the same way, by the end of the movie there’s a rabbit driving a bus over the Brooklyn Bridge causing so much destruction it would be considered a terrorist event, and a dog manages to beat up everything from a crocodile to a warthog, all in clear view of the public. Idiotic.
Maybe this is a movie not aimed at me though? Maybe it’s just a kids film rather than one that’s set out to appeal to the whole family like Disney and Pixar’s efforts? But if that was the case, why advertise it before movies aimed at adults?
What I would say is that there are one or two amusing moments near the start of The Secret Life of Pets, but they are in the trailer anyway.
So watch the trailer, have a chuckle and then go home and watch Toy Story; you’ll enjoy that more.