One of the many things you can say about The Secret Life of Pets is that it’s better than the preview. The movie itself (basically an updated version of Lady and the Tramp) has a lot more heart and sweetness than the trailer would indicate and, frankly, more than the typical animated feature that’s churned out for kids nowadays.
Much of the production team is made up of folks from the Despicable Me franchise, and while not as strong as those films, it’s still a cut above Dreamworks, if not quite Pixar or Disney.
People who have a soft spot for their pets will probably have a soft spot for this story about the adventures our pets can pack into a single day while we’re at work.
Of all the stunning components of this movie, perhaps nothing is more astonishing than the fact that, within it, Kevin Hart delivers his most subtle and layered performance to date–as a cartoon character. He’s hysterical as “Snowball," a militant anti-domestication bunny who’s willing to resort to extreme civil disobedience. It’s the first time in a long while that Mr. Hart hasn’t annoyed the hell out me with his, er, strident style.
Much of the tenderness comes from the characterization of “Max” by Louis C.K., an (I think) underrated actor and the centering soul of the film.
Next to said performance by Mr. Hart, the other truly impressive quality of the film is its superior use of 3D. I’m not kidding when I say this is the finest 3D work I’ve seen in a very long time. Unlike a lot of the 3D transfers that typically get released, The Secret Life of Pets actually looks like it was planned with the process already in mind and shows just how lazy Hollywood has been with this technology.
Finding Dory is a tough act to follow after only three weeks of release, but this is solid if not exactly unique. I honestly cannot imagine anyone under the age of 12 not adoring it.
(Loudinni specializes in movie reviews spanning 500 words or less, sans spoilers.)