HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Secret Life of Pets
HTS Overall Score:79
I have to say that I was SUPER excited for “The Secret Life of Pets” when I saw the trailer drop. It had the same creative writing and directing team as those behind the wildly popular “Despicable Me” series and I’m a monster fan of that franchise. The trailer was cute, funny and especially hysterical to a pet owner like myself when it came to the eccentricities of animals. My wife and I really wanted to see it in theaters but somehow holiday life got in the way and it somehow got put on the back burner until the home theater release. Sadly I think part of my own hype got the better of me and when I finally DID get to see it I was more than a bit disappointed. I made sure to hold off and give it a second time before writing this analysis (I had to actually watch it three times, 2D, 3D and 4K for these reviews) and it just didn’t get better with multiple watches. Most of the funny parts were ALL in the trailers (most of the trailer comes from the first 15 minutes of the movie) and the rest was a monotonous, but still decently entertaining family animated flick.
Max (Louis C.K.) and Katie (Ellie Kemper) are totally in love. Although to Max its sheer adoration. You see, Max is a cute little fluffy puppy while Katie is his amazing human owner. He and Katie have been living in New York since she has adopted him and life is never better. Life is grand except for one thing. Katie tends to LEAVE for the day (like most humans do who have a job) and Max is forced to entertain himself with the other apartment animals who are doing the same thing. There’s Gidget (Jenny Slate) the rich snobby dog across the way, Chloe (Lake Bell), the enormously fat cat above him, Mel the pug (Bobby Moynihan) and a host of other buddies that he hangs out with. Things take a change for the worse when Katie brings home Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a big, hairy mongrel of a dog that was going to be put down. Needless to say that Max is NOT happy with the arrangement. Duke is rude, a bit blustery, and kind of mean to Max (although Max himself isn’t the bastion of love and friendship).
The dogs butt more than a few heads and soon the two are at seemingly permanent odds. When he gets some leverage over the big dumb dog, Max things he’s kind of the world, but Duke has other plans. Trying to “ditch” Max in the big city turns out to backfire on the furry oaf, leaving both Duke and Max in the hands of animal control. Now their big adventure starts for certain as they have to escape animal control and stay out of the clutches of a psychotic band of “rejected” pets who have taken up residence in the sewers of New York City (lorded over by a fluffy bunny named “snowball” who is voiced by the ever annoying Kevin Hart). Simultaneously, Gidget, Mel and Chloe along with a few other friends set out on a mission to save Max and Duke before it’s too late and Katie comes home to find her pups missing.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=85666[/img]“The Secret Life of Pets” is an ok sort of film. It isn’t nearly as good as the “Despicable Me” films, but falls more in line with “Minions” in terms of enjoyment. The animals are adorable and cute, and the animation is style is even better than the afore mentioned “Despicable Me” films. I really REALLY wanted to love it, but at the end of the day “The Secret Life of Pets” was really just a decent rental. You can see elements of “Toy Story “ (both films) throughout, and pieces of other animated films, but there just wasn’t enough traction to really get going. I like Louis C.K. as max, and Jenny Slate as Gidge was priceless. My biggest concern going in was the slightly nutzoid “snowflake” being voiced by Kevin Hart. Kevin is one of those love it or hate it type of actors and I ended up loathing him about as much as I do in the rest of Hart’s overly obnoxious comedy roles.
However, despite some clichéd plot points and overdone characters, the animated flick has a solid amount of charm and cute jokes to keep that smile on your face. Max and Duke’s relationship is fun to watch and the incredible animation had me marveling at the screen the whole time. Many of the jokes are a big hit or miss, but the hits were actually rather funny more often than not. I had to chuckle at a few of the dog’s antics more than once, but I did notice that all of the really REALLY funny parts were actually all in the trailer. Not to mention that they came from the first 15 minutes of the film which made the last hour and 10 minutes a bit less energetic and fresh.
Rated PG for action and some rude humor
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=85674[/img]Here’s where it gets interesting. It seems that “The Secret Life of Pets” was finished on a 2K digital intermediary and that shows in the end result. Don’t get me wrong, the Blu-ray is STUNNING reference material, but the reason that I’m rating the 4K disc down as much as I am is because it looks almost NO DIFFERENT than the Blu-ray. Is it gorgeous? Yes, those same bright colors and vibrant look to the picture is just amazing as the Blu-ray, but if you compare the two discs side by side you really can’t tell any difference between the 4K and the 1080p images. Sure some fine detailing in the fur looks ever so slightly better, but the HDR doesn’t really bring out anything new from the color spectrum, and the blacks were so inky already that there is nowhere to improve upon. Again, I’m not bashing the image at ALL, it looks great, it’s just you would expect a bit more “oomph” going from 1080p to 4K, even though the animation is simply lovely.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=85682[/img]Universal is one of the good guys and has decided to put the Dolby Atmos track on BOTH the Blu-ray iterations as well as the 4K discs (which is nice for those people who want to buy 4K combo packs to future proof their collection and not have to compromise on audio quality when watching the BD). The Atmos track on all the discs really does deliver the goods as expected. The mix is big and bold, with lots of impactful LFE on the mid-range with a rocking pop track, and the rest of the sound field is given a healthy kick in the pants with a flurry of activity. There is a sense of effortlessness to the sound track that belies the complexity of the underpinning activity. Little teensy details flow through all channels and compliment the more aggressive sounds of the dogs traipsing around New York City. Barks are appropriately harsh and the roar and bustle of city driving makes the ground rumble with amazing layers of bass. The overheads get a solid bit of use when Gidget and her rescue posse and going up and down skyscrapers, as well as a few sounds in the sewers that create a nice sensed of encompassing ambiance.
• How to Make an Animated Film – A behind-the-scenes look at how to make an animated film from the various departments that make up Illumination. (Blu-ray exclusive)
• Anatomy of a Scene – Filmmakers and animators take us through the multi-step process it takes to create a specific scene in the Secret Life of Pets (Blu-ray exclusive)
- Norman Television
- Mower Minions
• All About The Pets – Kevin Hart and Eric Stonestreet, with the help of animal trainer Molly Mignon O'Neill take you on an educational journey to learn more about your average and not-so average, household pets.
• Animals Can Talk: Meet The Actors – The comedy superstars who give voice to the film's menagerie of characters talk about their roles and the process of bringing them to life.
• Hairstylist To The Dogs – Inspired by "Hairspray Live!," Eric Stonestreet, with the help of a professional dog groomer Jess Rona, will take you through the basic steps to help your pups look as awesome as possible when they're hanging out with their pet pals.
• The Best Of Snowball – A rapid-fire, fun and oddly musical mash-up of all the best Snowball one-liners
• Hot Dog Sing-Along – Join Max and Duke as they perform for their dinner in the sausage factory. This straightforward sing along is fun for the whole family to enjoy.
• Sing Trailer
• "Lovely Day" Lyric Video
• The Humans that Brought You Pets – Producers Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy, directors Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney, and writer Brian Lynch discuss what went into creating The Secret Life of Pet's compelling characters and non-stop action.
• GoPro®: The Secret Life of Pets
• The Making of the Mini-Movies – A fun and interesting take on the Making of the Mini-Movies – we'll explore the themes of each of the mini-movies through the eyes of the artists who made them.
“The Secret Life of Pets” is decent family entertainment, but I have to say that I’m mildly disappointed. I was expecting much more coming from the creative team that brought us both “Despicable Me” films and I guess I set my own internal bar too high. The film is cute and has plenty of memorable characters, but it’s just lacking that spark that really makes it a fantastic film (despite the amazing animation). Due to the fact that the Blu-ray and 4K disc are nearly indistinguishable, it brings up the question "which one should I get"? Personally I think that it depends on whether or not you want the 4K digital copy or if the price is any different. If the Blu-ray can be had for a significant savings than I would go with that one, but if there's no difference in price, then get the 4K. It's a jump up in quality even if just by the barest amounts and the digital copy redeems in UHD as well.
Starring: Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Albert Brooks
Directed by: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
Written by: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), Spanish DD 7.1, French DD 5.1
Runtime: 86 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: December 6th, 2016
Buy The Secret Life of Pets On 4K Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy The Secret Life of Pets On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy The Secret Life of Pets 3D On Blu-ray at Amazon
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