Max the terrier flashes that imploring don’t-leave-me
look when Katie leaves home every day. But he’s not alone. The neigbourhood is
full of furry and feathered pets in the same boat as Max and their daily
exchanges are warm, witty and varied. With Gidget the pomeranian and Chloe the cat
and an assortment of other animals around, life’s really quite peachy until
Katie brings home the monstrously huge Duke. It’s like the arrival of another
sibling and Max can’t bear to share space with another pet. Their rivalry
plunges both of them into the streets of New York with alley cats and the
animal control people with their nets on their tail.
Max and Duke are rescued by fiery bunny Snowball and
the gang from the sewers of New York who have their reasons for wanting to hit
back at human beings. It’s time for Max and Duke to run away from them as well.
Meanwhile, Gidget from next door has been secretly in
love with Max and she leads the neighbourhood pets in search of Max and Duke.
The story has predictable references to humans and
their petty emotions, and there are a few dips in the narration when the
cuteness wanes. But the film strikes all the right notes about warm loving
bonds and director Chris Renaud scores well on four fronts.
One is the wit and quick repartee that keeps it
lively. Like Chloe the catty one reminding the dogs that she’s a cat and being
told, “Oh well, nobody’s perfect.”
The second is the interesting variety of animals. Like
a predator bird in their midst who has to periodically remind himself not to
gobble up the nearest pet.
The superb, lifelike animation is another major plus.
And lastly, the perfect voice cast. From Louis CK as Max,
Kevin Hart as wicked Snowball, to Jenny Slate as Gidget in love and Lake Bell
as Chloe who purrs, every voice makes you want to hug the pets on the screen.
For a film that kids and ‘animal people’ can happily
cuddle up to, The Secret Life Of Pets
gets a 3* rating.
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author