Entertainment Monday: The Secret Life of Pets (WITH SPOILERS)
The Secret Life of Pets follows the antics of a New York City dog named Max, who revels in the attention of his owner until the day she adopts and brings home a rescue dog named Duke. Max and Duke's relationship gets off to a shaky start when Max feels threatened by the new dog on the block. Duke is a rather large dog relative to Max, who is a terrier. Duke begins to bully Max once he realizes that he is not welcome in Max's home, but Max uses blackmail against Duke to reassert his dominance of the household.
When the dog walker that Max's owner has hired comes to walk Max, Duke and the other neighborhood dogs, Max uses his power over Duke to manipulate him and demean him. Duke is not one to take Max's orders laying down though, so he tricks Max into a situation that ultimately results in the two dogs being separated from the dog-walking party.
Once separated from their friends, Max and Duke face a variety of trials, tribulations and adventures in their attempts to return home to their owner. Their primary adversary in their efforts to return home are the dog catchers who are constantly chasing them and an (literal) underground network of stray pets who's ring leader is a brash, take no prisoners, bunny rabbit named Snowball.
Max and Duke are doing all they can to return home but somehow they keep ending up further and further away from home. In the mean time a search and rescue party made up of a variety of the apartment buildings pets, led by Gidget a Pomeranian who holds a secret crush on Max, is formed to find the two missing dogs.
Duke who was saved from an Animal Shelter is in particular danger from the dog catchers because he fears if he is to be returned to the Animal Shelter that he will be put down. Over the course of their efforts to get back to their owner Max and Duke form a bond and embark on a side journey to find Duke's former owner whom Duke loved very much and misses since he got lost and placed in the dog pound.
Sadly Duke and Max are not able to find Duke's former owner and ultimately they are tracked down by Snowball and Snowball's henchmen who were deceived into helping Max and Duke the first time they had met. Max and Duke had lied about being stray pets to get out of a compromised situation with the dog catchers when they needed the assistance of Snowball and the stray pet organization he ran.
Snowball and his cronies, motivated by revenge for the deception, are able to track down Duke and Max just after the two dogs become prisoners inside the Dog Catcher's truck. Just as Snowball was about to get his revenge against Max and Duke for their deception, Gidget and the band of Pets come to the rescue in an epic battle of Household Pets vs. Stray Pets. During the battle Duke, who is trapped inside the dog catcher's truck is thrown from the Brooklyn Bridge and into the East River where he will drown unless he is saved. Max does all he can to try and rescue Duke but he does not have the key he needs to unlock Duke's cage. Snowball whose hard shell is cracked by the dire situation dives into the East River with the keys needed to help Max rescue Duke.
After the rescue Max, Duke and all the Pets are able to return to their apartment homes in Manhattan. Max now realizes just how much Gidget likes him and they end up together. Duke and Max are reunited with their owner and have a new found respect for each other, even becoming good friends. Snowball is spotted by a child who abducts him off the street, taking him away from his band of Stray Pets. Even though Snowball is angered by the abduction, as soon as the little girl expresses how much she loves him, Snowball's cold heart melts and he is able to let go of his bitterness and jealousy.
There is a lot of good action in the Secret Life of Pets, as the story never drags. Even most of the bad guys are likable characters who really just want to be loved by an owner. I think most kids and adults would really enjoy the movie. Despite the fighting there is not too much violence in the movie, and it is not as suggestive to adult subjects/themes as some cartoons can be.
I loved The Secret Life of Pets. I think it is one of the best cartoon movies I have seen, and rank it second only to Zootopia out of the cartoons I have seen in the last 5 years. It is absolutely worth going to see in the theaters and later buying on DVD to enjoy over and over again.