July has not been a big movie month for me. But that has been by choice. I have work to do, stuff to buy and I really want to send more money to my parents (which means my mom). Which has been done and I'm very proud of myself. No one wants to be the bum kid. Not even at 31.
The Secret Life of Pets from Illumination Entertainment follows Max (dog, terrier) who is taken care of by his owner Katie and focuses his life around her coming and going. He has his own animal friends though including a tabby cat Chloe and dog Gigit. However when Katie brings home Duke from the pound life changes in an instant and Max doesn't want to share. As things get worse between the two dogs Duke tries to abandon Max deep into the cit. But the plan backfires when their collars are stolen and Animal Control catches them. Their escape is facilitated by Snowball and his gang which call themselves The Flushed Pets. Animals who were abandoned by their human owners and swear revenge with plans of murdering humans. They even have a shrine to one of their own who supposedly killed multiple people. Duke and Max pretend to be killers but when discovered to be fake everything takes a turn for the worse and the duo end up not just running off on their own to get home but for their very lives.
I have to tell you guys, I LOVE this movie. More than Deadpool and it is now my third favorite movie behind Civil War and Zootopia. Not better than Jungle Book or even Deadpool in quality but man this movie goes off the wall when it comes to animation fun and toeing the line with what's appropriate for kids. Illumination Entertainment loves to push boundaries on what is meant to be in animation. Despicable Me had villains among us, one of whom becomes a dad. Minions had lovable creatures whose only purpose were to become villain assistants and help take over the world. I mean we all know Scarlet did not want to hug those minions when they accidentally ruined her dream. Now with The Secret Life of Pets you have pets who want to murder humans and parade their doctrine. Some reviews have called this movie straight slapstick, a Toy Story rip-off (oh yeah Pixar makes movies exactly like Illumination, just be quiet), mean spirited and get this, too kid like for adults. That last one makes me laugh because clearly that person was not watching the same movie. This one actually has stakes and some of the animals in The Flushed Pets were actually abused. I mean who really tattoos a pig all over it's body then abandons it? No one is adopting that for their kid. PETA needed to get on that. Personally I connected with the pig and respected that character. Also for anyone who complains that this movie is too much yet are just fine with kids watching Batman v Superman, get the hell out. Animation is no longer the medium of just Mickey Mouse. There can be kid movies with an adult edge to it. Like Batman v Superman (more like rabid animal, our heroes killed folks in that thing. Not even Marvel colorful all self defense kills either. Just saying DC went DARK). So I applaud Illumination for toeing the line and perhaps even overstepping it.
Also this movie goes with several themes. Family and safety, homelessness, death, love, friendship and many more. There is even representation for the elderly and disabled in a basset hound named Pops. Let's not kid ourselves, in quite a number of cases dog owners would have put him down. But Pops owner decides to instead take care of his elderly paralyzed dog who is equipped to wheel himself around and helps Gidget and company go out searching for Max. Gidget while yes a love sick dog is also loyal and independent. She recruits a vicious chicken hawk named Tiberius, almost losing her life in the process. Showing that sometimes life experience can make someone hard but willingness to show kindness and friendship can profoundly have an impact. Really touching. Unrealistic (with that chicken hawk) but touching all the same.
So yes I love this movie. Do I recommend it. Yes but it also depends. With the varied reactions I'd have to advise that if you want the next Zootopia, don't go see this. These animals are animated but are still animals. They are not creating cities or changing the world. They just want to live life and help their friends. Oh and some want to murder humans. Of course you need to love animation, have an appreciation for well used slap stick and not think Toy Story is the first movie to have toys come to life. Sorry but as a huge Pixar fan I need to inform those people if they think SLOP is a rip off then so is Toy Story from many other ideas that came before it. Toy Story is just really well executed and a gem in computer animation. Toys coming to life is nothing new and SLOP having animals that can do more than real life animals is no new either. But the execution of each gives us animation that we can enjoy if the stories touch and entertain us. Both of these did and while Toy Story is superior in my opinion. SLOP is also amazing in it's own way. Illumination is not trying to be Pixar or Disney. They are paving their own path and adults are strongly invited. A grown animated fan like myself not only loves that but respects it as well. If you want to see it, then go. Right now. Go. And yes kids can see it. Especially if they were allowed to see B v S. Enjoy your weekend and see you on Monday.