Toy Story but With Dogs: “The Secret Life of Pets” Review

(This movie contains minor spoilers. Read at your own discretion.)

If anyone knows me well, then you’d know how much I love a) animated movies—more so than I do live-action ones, and b) dogs (if you didn’t know, now you know. Your life is different now.*) And, boy, did this movie have a lot of dogs (and other pets, but mostly dogs).

There’s no better way to describe this movie other than Toy Story but with pets. Here’s my summary of it:

Woody, a pull-string cowboy toy, Max, a Jack Russell terrier, is Andy’s favourite toy Katie’s pet dog and they’ve been in each other’s lives for as long as he can remember. Woody Max loves Andy Katie and is caught off-guard when he receives a new toy she adopts another dog, an astronaut action figure, Buzz Lightyear, a large, shaggy dog called Duke. Woody Max is skeptical and jealous of Buzz’s Duke’s presence because he fears that he wouldn’t be Andy’s favourite toy Katie’s favourite dog anymore. So Woody Max attempts to get rid of Buzz Duke. Things didn’t go according to plan: Woody and Buzz Max and Duke end up becoming stranded in the outside world and has to work together in order to get back to home. 

I hope that formatting wasn’t too confusing to read. But that’s only scratching the surface of what really goes down in this movie. Sure, on the outside, it was about two pets with clashing personalities trying to find their way back to their owner, and somewhere along the way they learn to accept their differences and become good friends, but that story’s been done before many times before. So, naturally, it had to include a twist. And what better twist was there out there than a cult.

Yeah, I didn’t see that coming, either. Not did I expect the wiener fever dream sequence. Felt like a prep for Sausage Party or something. That’s what I immediately thought of when the scene came on. Obviously this isn’t the case, because The Secret Life of Pets is a movie for children and Sausage Party clearly is not, but it easily could’ve been a spon.

But I digress. I thought the voice acting for this movie was spot on; it made the pets’ respective personalities shine through. I especially liked Kevin Hart’s depiction of the crazy puffball of a bunny, Snowball. He has such a memorable voice that sometimes I find it hard to distinguish his character from himself. All the characters feel incredibly animated and human. You can easily replace the pets with people and nothing would be out of place. In fact, with a few tweaks here and there, this movie could have easily been an action blockbuster. Every second is thrilling; I wasn’t expecting to be holding my breath for so long throughout the many action scenes.

Other than Snowball, my other favourite characters are Chloe, Max’s feline best friend, and Gidget, the Pomeranian with a massive crush on Max. I’ve never related more to an animal like Chloe. I’m 100% a dog person, but I am also 100% cat-like human being. Think April Ludgate from Parks and Recreation (oh my god, they should’ve casted Aubrey Plaza for Chloe’s role!) She’s shown to be apathetic, but you can tell she cares deeply about her friends even if she doesn’t show it. As for Gidget, I admit I underestimated when she first popped up on screen, but over time she won me over. Her determination and drive to find Max and reunite with him is contagious. And she knows how to serve . I’m a sucker for badass action ladies, even if this one happens to be a dog.

And with a movie like this, there’s guaranteed to be several tender moments which will either tug at your heartstrings or make you full on bawl your eyes out. Duke’s story, in particular, killed me. I saw it coming the minute they introduced it, but it broke my heart all the same.

The introduction to each pets’ owners at the very end was a sweet touch. I did wish we learned more of Katie. I know the movie’s main focus is on Max and Duke, but it seems rather off not to know their owner’s story, even only a little bit. To put her on the same level of backstory (does that make sense?) as the other pets’ owners doesn’t bothers me more than it should, especially when I could sense more of the other owners’ personalities just by their design and how they bring themselves in their few seconds of screen time rather than Katie’s, who showed up a handful of times. For example, Gidget’s owner was shown to be high-class and often pampers their beloved Pom while Chloe’s owner is a loving and caring lady with what looks like a 9 to 5 job. My first impression of Katie was that she’s a student, but then how was she able to keep on top of her studies (and possibly a job—New York is not a cheap place to live in) and provide for herself with two pets in tow? So then I thought maybe she’s an adult with a steady job; it sounds plausible. But I can only speculate. I still want to know more about her.

Overall, I thought it was a cute and surprisingly adrenaline-rushing movie about the many misadventures your pet could potentially have while you’re not around. There’s a lot to be learned about friendship and making the best out of a crap situation. It’s a very dog-centred movie, but don’t miss out on it just because you happen to be a cat person. It’s a dog eat dog world out there, but in the words of Gloria Pritchett, “Who wants to live in a world where dogs eat each other? Doggy dog world is a beautiful world full of little puppies.”

If you’ve made it this far into my post, then thank you for reading! Have you seen this movie, and if so, what did you think? If you haven’t, would you want to? And are you a dog or a cat person? Let me know down below because I’m genuinely curious.

Until next time,
Dev.

*If you got the reference, I love you and we should totally be friends if we weren’t already.

(Side image taken from here)

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Kate says:

    Honestly, when I saw the first trailer I was like, “Ohmigod yes! I need this in my life!” Didn’t help that my sister kept on watching the first trailer nearly every day until the second one. That’s when I saw the Toy Story similarity and I backed away from the movie gradually. Love your synopsis but I’m thinking of letting this sit for a month or so before I watch it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dev. says:

      Ah, fair enough ☺️ hope you’ll get around to it soon

      Liked by 1 person

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