We've been spoilt this year when it comes to animal-centric animations; films such as Zootopia, Finding Dory, The Jungle Book and even Kung Fu Panda 3 have charmed young and old.

So when it comes to highly anticipated The Secret Life of Pets, it's hard not to feel a little let down. It's cute and perfectly good fun for younger kids, who are less inclined to compare it to their last cinema outing, but for a more discerning audience (i.e. the paying parent) it's an adventure you've likely been on before.

There's no messing around as the story begins - we're quickly introduced to a group of neighbourhood mates, including our lead canine Max (Louis C.K.) and his best friend, a cat called Chloe (voiced to perfection by Lake Bell).

Max believes he has a special relationship with his roommate (owner) Katie and is devastated when she brings home another rescue dog, Duke (Eric Stonestreet). In an attempt by Max to get rid of the new competition, he and Duke get lost in Manhattan, and end up on an action-packed adventure as the try to get home - a classic Woody versus Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story situation.

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Max's friends, led by the fluff-ball Gidget (Jenny Slate), attempt to save Max and Duke; who after being rescued from an animal control van by a strange gang of gangster animals, find themselves in the sewers where the underbelly of "flushed pets" live, planning revenge on their human owners.

Max and Duke quickly find themselves on the wrong side of their leader, hilarious anarchist rabbit Snowball voiced with gusto by Kevin Hart, and must work together to escape.

What The Secret Life of Pets does well is action, taking on classic New York cinema moments such as crashed trucks perilously suspended off Brooklyn Bridge, dangerous alleyways, construction-site shenanigans and car chases, which deliver pace and tension.

It's also where most of the laughs come from - the funniest being scenes with animals splattered across windows, grates, and pretty much anything else they fly into. It's an old gag, but a well-executed one.


Cast: Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet
Directors: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
Running Time: 90 mins
Rating: G
Verdict: Cute and funny but lacks originality.