After hearing people praise this movie, and seeing how much it was advertised, I was curious to see this. Now, I've never loved Illumination's movies, but I've never hated them either. I don't mind any of their films, but I feel like they're not as innovative as certain other animation companies. Hearing how much people loved Secret Life of Pets gave me a bit of hope that perhaps this movie would be Illumination's breakthrough. The one that would have the best animation, story, characters, emotions, etc.
Unfortunately, Secret Life of Pets just ended up being another okay movie for me. Right when I saw the trailers, I was reminded of Toy Story with the plot. I feared that the plot would be predictable, and it definitely was. A few different things were thrown in, but as a whole, the story was pretty predictable. One of the different things that was thrown in had potential to be a really emotional scene. This is a spoiler, by the way. Anyway, Duke finds out that his original owner had died, which could've led into an emotional scene, like in Finding Dory when Dory was made to believe her parents were dead. But the whole scene failed. Firstly, it was told, not shown. A random cat just gives the news to Duke. Second, Duke barely reacts to this, despite the movie going out of its way to show us a montage of him with his owner. He just gets mad at the family that moved into the owner's home before getting caught by animal control. After that, it's never mentioned again. Duke is just fine with his owner being dead, and living with a new owner and Max. This really bothers me, since as I said, this scene had potential to be emotionally provoking. But it didn't take the chance.
Our main characters didn't interest me. Max is just another typical good guy that just wants a good life. Duke was just another lovable big guy who may be a bit slow. However, the only characters that made me laugh/I enjoyed were Gidget, Snowball, Tiberius, and Pops. Gidget and Snowball were the ones that really shined, though. Gidget was just plain adorable, and hilarious. As for Snowball, I'm not a big fan of Kevin Hart, but he really did a great job for his first animated film. I personally prefer him doing voice work than him in live action films. He managed to make me laugh multiple times as Snowball. That bunny may be cute, but he's totally psychotic. As for the rest of the characters, they didn't really interest me. I don't hate any of them, but they were pretty generic.
I also am sick of the Minions. They got old when their own movie was made. I won't mind seeing them in Despicable Me 3, since we'll only get small doses of them, but having them constantly shoved in our faces is getting annoying. The short that came on before Secret Life of Pets was just stupid. No experimentation with the animation or characters. Just plain stupidity. They also had one of the dogs in Secret Life wear a Minions costume, and I just rolled my eyes. Minions may make Illumination money, but not many people care about them anymore. I certainly don't.
I do have some positive things to say about this film. The animation was impressive. I was particularly impressed with how they animated water, and the mannerisms of the pets. Which leads into the next thing I liked about this. I admire how much the creators of the film did their research on not just dogs, but most pets people keep. They were spot on with how dogs, cats, birds, etc. act. As a dog and cat owner, I appreciate the humor/realism that went into the pets, and they reminded me of my own pets.
As a whole, this a cute, but flawed film. I wasn't impressed with most of the characters. The story was predictable. Nothing about this film was thought or emotionally provoking. However, I appreciated some of the film's humor, animation, and the research that went into the mannerisms of the pets. It's a shame that this wasn't Illumination's breakthrough. Sure, it's making a lot of money, but it's still just an alright movie. Hopefully one day, Illumination will make a film just as great as the likes of Zootopia or Inside Out. The Secret Life of Pets just isn't that film.