Max is living the good life with his owner Katie in a New York City apartment. One day, she brings home Duke and mayhem immediately ensues. When the dog-walker misplaces them, they become lost in the city’s deep underground maze of sewers and can’t find their way home. To make things worse, an entire legion of rebellious animals is after them led by an evil bunny named Snowball. Fortunately, Max’s best friend Gidget gathers her forces in a search for the missing dogs. Their adventures take them all over New York as they try to find their way back to civilization.
2016, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 27 mins
Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Starring: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart
Directed by Yarrow Cheney & Chris Renaud
If you think this film sounds like Toy Story with animals, you’d be correct. That isn’t a bad thing however. Pet lovers will adore the caricatures of their favorite dog breeds. Cat fans will have plenty to enjoy too as one of the main characters is a perfectly-represented feline. Every nuance of her personality is just what you’d expect from a cat if it could talk.
The voice-acting is first-rate and I particularly enjoyed Kevin Hart as Snowball, the rebellious bunny. Watching a cute white rabbit talk smack and lead scores of bloodthirsty animals around New York City will keep you laughing long after the movie’s ended. There are plenty of references to modern culture to look for as well. YouTube even gets a little screen time when Chloe the cat’s antics are displayed on a jumbotron in Times Square.
The Secret Life of Pets is a fun movie that will appeal to everyone young or old. Despite its PG rating, I found nothing inappropriate for children here. This is a great rental or purchase for family movie night. And the three short subjects included in the bonus section are well-worth watching at the end.
When it comes to animated films, there’s Pixar and there’s everyone else. I can’t find fault with the image but it doesn’t have the sublime textures and subtle detail of something like Wall-E or Monsters, Inc.; hence the half-star penalty. That being said, colors are vivid and pop from the screen. Contrast is deep and though there isn’t much dark material to test your display’s black levels, there is plenty of dimensionality. And the animators are to be credited for the detail seen in all the dog’s noses. There’s a fine texture there that looks impressive.
Dolby Atmos is included in this release but I watched on a standard 5.1-channel system using the TrueHD encode. Surround effects are decent but your sub won’t have much to do here and that seemed like a missed opportunity. Dialog and ambient sounds are clean and crisp and well-anchored in the wide front soundstage.
Bonus features include a number of short making-of documentaries along with actor close-ups, interviews and three mini-movies of about five-minutes each.