Buddy (HANNIBAL BURESS) is a sarcastic dachshund in Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures’ "The Secret Life of Pets," a comedy about the lives our pets lead after we leave for work or school each day.

Release Date: July 8, 2016

Running Time: 1 hour and 31 minutes

Rated PG for action and some rude humor

Directed By: Chris Renaud & Yarrow Cheney

Grade: B


I’m Max and I’m the luckiest dog in New York because of her.

Max is an adorable terrier who grew up with his human named Katie. Every day he waits patiently at the door for his Katie to return from work. One day, Katie returns home with a dog named Duke that she adopted from the pound. Having been an only pet for his entire life, Max is not happy to have a new brother. While at the dog park, Duke tricks Max into leaving the park which leads them down a path to being lost. Their first CATastrophe begins with an encounter with a feral cat colony that renders them collarless and a target for animal control. A cute (but crazy) bunny named Snowball comes to their rescue in the animal control van. Alas, Snowball is the leader of The Flushed Pets who has an agenda to seek revenge on all humans who desert their pets. Max and Duke agree to join The Flushed Pets until they witness the initiation rite. With both Snowball and animal control hot on their tails, Max and Duke must learn to like each other in order to survive. Once Max’s friends realize that he is missing, they pounce into action for a rescue mission. Ever wonder what your pets do when you are not home? Wonder no more…

We can find our way home. We are descended from the mighty wolf. We have raw primal instincts that are moments away from leading us home.

Woof woof woof… oops, I mean bravo! Directed by the creative minds behind Despicable Me 1 and 2 (and upcoming 3!), comes possibly the cutest animated film that I have ever had the pleasure of watching. The characters are developed early on in the film and led by Max (Louis C.K.) whose Duke situation reminds me of Toy Story when Woody is introduced to Buzz Lightyear. Gidget (Jennie Slate) also undergoes a transformation that is absolutely hilarious. The carrot goes to Kevin Hart, though, for his incredible voicing of Snowball (a ball of fluff with a screw loose). The story, written by the writers for Despicable Me (1 and 2) and The Minions, is packed with innuendos to keep the adults entertained as well as the children. The animation department and the music from the 8 time Oscar nominated composer, Alexandre Desplat, also helps elevate this animated film to a new level of family entertainment. For a tail wagging pawsome good time, race into the theater to catch this one!  ~Movie Buffette

The Secret Life of Pets is a fun, character-driven film from Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures.  It is a movie that I have wanted to see more of since I glimpsed the first five minutes at CinemaCon in 2015.  The highly original film captures the audience with the story of Max, the top dog in an apartment high-rise in New York City. Max was rescued as a puppy and has had the full attention of his owner Katie for his entire life.  Along comes a huge brown dog named Duke, who uses his brawn to intimidate Max and take his bed and bowl of food.  Things get out of control when the dog walker is distracted and Duke tricks Max into another area of the dog park.   Duke pushes Max into an orange construction fence and the next thing you know they are in a back alley with some mean and crazy cats.  From there, they go on a wild adventure.  Meanwhile, Max’s friends led by Gidget, a white toy dog, begin their own journey to find him and enlist the help of a wise Basset Hound named Pops and a cranky bird named Tiberius.

The pets are voiced by a well-chosen cast that brings the story to life.   Kevin Hart is hilarious as Snowball. The film illustrates the power of friendship.  Max and Duke learn how to share and how to forgive. The rest of the Manhattan pets must be brave as they leave the comforts and safety of their cushy apartments to help Gidget search for Max.  Most of the movie is filled with adorable and cute characters that make you laugh.  However, there is one particular scene in the storm sewer involving the “Flushed Pets” that I think could have been toned down a bit. The pets are discussing how to do away with the humans that abandoned them.  It is one thing to use adult innuendos, but something else when the language is direct. Parents should use caution since it may not be appropriate for impressionable young children. Overall, I thought this was an entertaining film with rich animation and wonderful dialogue. It is fitting for adults, teenagers and most children. Prior to the film, audiences will be treated to an extremely funny short featuring the Minions.  ~A.S. MacLeod

Voice talents:

Louis C.K. as Max

Ellie Kemper as Katie

Jennie Slate as Gidget

Kevin Hart as Snowball

Lake Bell as Chloe

Eric Stonestreet as Duke

Hannibal Buress as Buddy

Bobby Moynihan as Mel

Dana Carvey as Pops

and Albert Brooks as Tiberius



About Leigh Ann Rassler