The first thing that people accuse The Secret Life of Pets of doing, is ripping off Toy Story. The idea that when humans aren't looking, things that we don't expect to move do. This way of thinking is not appropriate for a number of reasons. The first being that if that were true, then Toy Story ripped off a movie for its premise, a movie called The Brave Little Toaster. That movie borrowed its idea from another work called The Indian in the Cupboard. So many films and works have used this story telling device way before Toy Story. Second, there are a wide variety of differences from Toy Story and The Secret Life of Pets that make it seem like they are no where near the same. So that argument has no weight to it.
What about the movie itself though? The simple answer comes down to a couple factors. The comedy in the movie is completely dull and unoriginal. I have seen the same simple gag tricks done in animated TV shows many years ago. The only redeeming thing about the movie's comedy is Kevin Heart's performance as Snowball the bunny. I know there is no review here for Central Intelligence, but that was not a great movie. Kevin Heart is basically just doing what he always does there, but in The Secret Life of Pets he is the only saving grace. Almost every single scene except for one, I laughed because of Kevin Heart's character. I want to prefecit that these were not big laughs, just little chuckles. So even if there was more of Snowball the bunny it wouldn't have been enough.
The second problem with the movie comes down to its big cast of supporting characters. There are so many things to pay attention to that you cannot completely focus on one group of characters. You can't enjoy the journey that the three main groups take in the movie because it has to cut to a different group to fill in their story. The movie wants you to form a quick connection with everyone but it is hard to do. Instead of having a deep story with a small group, you get very little information with a large group.
There are only a couple of strong suits that the movie did, but they are so minor that they cannot save this movie from itself. I will list a couple of them because they factor in with why the movie didn't work well. The first thing I noticed was that Illumination Entertainment has gone the Pixar route in which they had a short in front of the movie. This short was about the minions and it made me actually laugh, not just a chuckle. This has to do with how minion comedy is presented. With The Secret Life of Pets, the comedy was generic and uninspired while minion comedy is still amazing. This comes down to the fact that the minion comedy is inventive and something that is not widely know or used before. It is a fresh experience that catches you off guard and is genuinely funny unlike the comedy in this movie. The second thing that stood out was the first 10 min of the movie. It was an exact retread of the trailer with the alternating shots of pets and their owners. This made the movie start off really boring for me since I have seen the trailer multiple times, but I can appreciate what that means for a movie goer watching the full movie. It allows for the movie not to be spoiled by the trailer and leaves new experiences, it is a shame that the movie is not good enough to capitalize on this.
It was cool to see a garden gnome in the movie from the minion short that was shown before the movie and a poster for the next Illumination Entertainment movie on a bus. Overall, I wish I didn't see it in theaters because I was let down since Minions was far superior to this movie.
The last thing I want to bring up is the idea that this movie is better that Finding Dory. Yes, Finding Dory was not as good as Finding Nemo, but The Secret Life of Pets is also not as good as Finding Nemo. If you were to go to the movie theaters right now, go watch Finding Dory because it is still way better than this movie.