I’ve known pets could get up to all kinds of things from the time long ago when my dog Sassy blew out my big, handmade speakers during some sort of party she must have had while I was gone.
I got back and those beautifully big, blonde wood trimmed behemoth speakers were barely squeaking. The techs at the company laughed for 10 minutes, but they let me ship my speakers back and they sent me a new set.
This story is why “The Secret Life of Pets” is so breathtakingly funny. Anyone with a pet will see it mirrored in the behavior of animals whose home is in — and under — New York City.
Max (voice of Louis C.K.) lives a happy life with his human Katie (voice of Elle Kemper), a single woman who leaves Max alone each day and returns much, much later. He’s friends with white puffball Pomeranian Gidget (voice of Jenny Slate), Pug Mel (voice of Bobby Moynihan), Dachshund Buddy (voice of Hannibal Burgess), fat cat Chloe (voice of Lake Bell).
Max’s life is great until one evening Katie brings home Duke (voice of Eric Stonestreet), a huge shaggy brown dog who takes all the food and bedding from Max first thing. Max, in an attempt to get Katie to take Duke away, coyly starts wrecking the house. When the dog-walker comes and takes all the dogs to the park, Duke grabs Max’s leash and runs away from the park. The dog-walker doesn’t even miss either dog when he rounds up the others to take them home.
Duke and Max quickly lose their collars to a band of feral cats and find themselves in the back of an animal control truck. Both dogs have no idea what will happen when the truck is thrown off the Brooklyn Bridge into the water.
A sweet little white bunny shows up with a carrot between the teeth. Using his front teeth as a lathe, he forms a key with the carrot. He first unlocks his friend, a muzzled Boxer, before he makes Max and Duke promise to work for him before freeing them.
By this time they will agree to anything and are freed. They follow bunny Snowball (voice of Kevin Hart) to his underground lair of “flushed” pets — a motley crew of pets abandoned by their owners. It doesn’t take long for Snowball to realize the two dogs are pets and they escape, only to be hunted by Snowball and his gang.
Gidget, who is sweet on Max, is the first to notice Max is gone. She and her friends find interesting ways out of their high rise apartments and they also begin the hunt for Max, not knowing about Duke. Max’s friends enlist the help of the wisest dog they know, Pops (voice of Dana Carvey). Pops uses a wheelchair to move his hind legs but he does know a bit about saving lost friends.
The rest of the movie is watching each side close in on Max and Duke.
There are so many funny scenes in this movie it is hard to pick a favorite. Max and Duke come to terms with each other after Max realizes what has happened to Duke and why he was up for adoption. By the way, Sassy was more long-haired dachshund than standard poodle, but the scene where Leonard’s owner leaves the house with classical music playing, only to have him change it to heavy metal made me think of the long ago party Sassy had to have had at my house while I was away.
I learned never to leave the stereo on for my dogs now. I use a radio. Two more things — Those loveable Minions star in a short before the movie, and stay through the credits for a few more scenes from “The Secret Life of Pets”.