Any pet owner who’s imbued their furry or feathered friends with deep thoughts and mysterious intentions will relate to the imagination behind “The Secret Life of Pets.”
It may not have the emotional resonance of a Pixar movie, but with its playful premise, endearing performances and outstanding score by Alexandre Desplat, “Pets” is fun, family (and animal)-friendly fare.
People’s favorite non-speaking companions are brought to life here by Illumination Entertainment (the studio behind “Despicable Me”) and given voice by an all-star cast that includes Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate and Albert Brooks.
Plot-wise, “Pets” follows the path Pixar set with talking toys 20 years ago in “Toy Story”: Two would-be rivals fighting for the love of their owner are forced to unite for a common cause.
Little terrier Max (C.K.) is the top dog in the life of his owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper), and a leader among the other house pets in their New York City apartment building, including neighbor Pomeranian Gidget (Slate), and the fat cat next door, Chloe (Lake Bell). But his exalted position is threatened when Katie brings home a giant, fluffy mutt named Duke (Eric Stonestreet). Like Woody and Buzz, Max and Duke instantly are at odds.
The rival pups are trying to sabotage each other when they become separated from their dog walker and captured by animal control. This sends them on an adventure into the animal underworld: literally the underground headquarters of a bitter bunny named Snowball (Hart) and his team of Flushed Pets. Abandoned by their former owners, their motto is “liberated forever, domesticated never.”