Pets Are a Lot Like Us
By Skip Sheffield
“The Secret Life of Pets” imagines that pets communicate and interact much like the humans that maintain them. It’s a pretty thin premise, but this computer-generated animated feature is amusing, especially for those who love their pets.
The main character is a terrier named Max (voice of Louis C.K.). His life revolves around his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper), a young career woman in New York City. When she arrives he is ecstatic. When she goes for work, he is devastated.
Max’s life is turned upside-down when Katie shows up one day with a new rescued dog. She calls him Duke (voice of Erin Stonestreet) and he is a big, shaggy, slovenly dog.
Max has a girlfriend across the way. She is a dainty, lovely poodle called Gidget (Jenny Slate).
The main action of “Secret Life” occurs when Max and Duke venture into the outside world, all the way to Brooklyn. There they are the prey of ever-vigilant New York City dogcatchers. An uneasy alliance is formed with Snowball (Kevin Hart), a cuddly white bunny who is a rebel at heart and fierce leader of a ragtag army of abandoned pets who are united in their hatred of “the man” who rejected them.
Gidget emerges the unlikely hero of this story.
Anthropormorphism is the fancy term for ascribing human characteristics to animals. As long as we have pets, we will imagine their secret lives when we are away. “The Secret Life of Pets” feeds on that fantasy. It may not be real, but it is a lot of fun.