The Secret Life of Pets

2016, Illumination Entertainment

Talking animals can go one way or the other: they either work, or they don't. The notion of animals talking amongst themselves, but not with humans, isn't new; think of Bolt, as one example. Nor is the relationship between humans and pets new territory; try looking at How to Train Your Dragon with pets in mind. But that's not to say there isn't room for a new take on old material, as long as it's engaging. The Secret Life of Pets works. Not perfectly, not consistently, but just well enough to reward adults—especially pet owners—with some warm and fuzzy feels. Some of the gags are over-the-top; others are predictable. And more than a few critics have complained that it feels like Toy Story with pets; I really don't have a problem with that.

     

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The Secret Life of Pets 2

2019, Illumination Entertainment

Here's yet another sequel that exists only because the original made a lot of money ($800 million). There is a heartwarming little story here, but it's totally lost in a sea of disjointed, frantic, silly action. Harrison Ford effectively voices a grumpy sheepdog, but even he couldn't save the film. Ticket sales say it all: it made less than half as much as its predecessor.

   

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