Minno Movie Review – The Secret Life of Pets

By Jessica Wolstenholm



On The Secret Life Of Pets …

If you’ve ever wondered what in the world your pets do all day when you aren’t home, The Secret Life Of Pets will take you on an imaginative journey into what our favorite furry friends are up to when the door closes behind us each day.

In this fast-moving and funny film, a domesticated dog named Max (Louie C.K.) and his newly adopted brother, a large mutt named Duke (Eric Stonestreet), learn to get along. They vie for their owner, Katie’s, affection. After terrorizing her apartment in a standoff to be alpha dog and win her sole attention, their disagreements and bad choices land them on the streets of New York City, and the adventure begins. Along the way they lose their ID tags and get lost in the mix of renegade mutts and strays as they search for their way home.

The token villain is a white rabbit appropriately named, Snowball (Kevin Hart). He carries a chip on his shoulder having gone from once-loved pet to street-runner when his owner no longer needed him for his magic show. He is out for revenge against humans and all dogs who belong to them. He carries the lead in one-liners that provide quick laughs, but this movie is littered with comedy from all the pet characters as the immaturity of each of them tends to take center stage.

From the onset of the film, I started gathering small tokens of material that I wanted to discuss with our two boys. Maybe I went in expecting too much, instead of just enjoying a light-hearted family movie about pets whose lives are more interesting than my own.

The animation is eye-catching from the opening when we scan the views of New York City, as Taylor Swift’s song, “Welcome To New York” plays in the background. It wasn’t just the animation that jumped out at me. I personally own this song and in any other circumstance wouldn’t have noticed how the subtle lyrics affected my parental-sensitivity-meter. It relayed the sentiment of partaking in what the world offers as we zoom in on the streets of New York City – extreme, I know, but out of the gate this town is pitched as a place to become someone new; leaving behind whoever you didn’t like that you were before. I mentally made a note to remind myself and my kids that new places and spaces don’t provide a clean slate. Only working through your muck and mess and knowing who your Creator is and what He says about you is fulfilling. Heavy I know, but it convicted me even as I munched on my skittles and Icee.

Amongst the humor are some deep themes of home and family that exist as Max and Duke go from bickering dogs to buddies with one goal – finding their way home, together. This offers a teachable moment, shining a light on how their constant bickering lands them in a bad spot and how working together is always better than fighting against each other.

Also, along the way, they learn that it’s easy to go from a well-kept domesticated dog to just another animal on the streets of New York in search of your next meal – making us all equal in life’s dog park. This provided another avenue to teach our kids that it doesn’t matter who you are but who you belong to and that it’s easy to forget that and fall into the slums of life rather than walking in the fullness of who you were created to be.

As a parent, it might be difficult to help shine the light on the lessons we can learn from their journey when it is loaded with the immature humor; however, zoning in on the deep bond that exists in family is redeeming. In the end, The Secret Life Of Pets, provides 90 minutes of a few laughs for both parents and kids. It’s a bit of animated fun with lots of opportunities for refills on drinks and popcorn.


Find more movie reviews on the culture+media section of Minno Life!