REVIEW: THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS

Starring

Louis C.K. (Trumbo)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Kevin Hart (Get Hard)
Jenny Slate (The Lego Batman Movie)
Ellie Kemper (Set Tape)
Lake Bell (Man Up)
Dana Carvey (Wayne’s World)
Hannibal Buress (Bad Neighbours)
Bobby Moynihan (Sisters)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Steve Coogan (Alan Partiridge)
Albert Brooks (The Simpsons)
Jim Cummings (Christopher Robin)
John Kassir (Tales From The Crypt)
Jason Marsden (Young Justice)
Jim Ward (Batman Vs Two-Face)

Louis C.K., Lake Bell, and Bobby Moynihan in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)A spoiled Jack Russell Terrier named Max lives with his owner Katie in a Manhattan apartment. While she is at work during the day, he hangs out with other pets in the building: tabby cat Chloe, pug Mel, dachshund Buddy, and budgerigar Sweet Pea. One day, Katie adopts Duke, a large Newfoundland mix from the pound, leaving Max jealous because of her divided focus on Duke. Enraged by Max’s attitude towards him, Duke tries to abandon Max in an alley, but they are both attacked by cats led by Sphynx cat Ozone who removes both dogs’ collars and leaves them to be caught by Animal Control. Duke fears that he will be killed if he goes back to the pound. When Gidget, a white Pomeranian who is not so secretly in love with Max, discovers that he is missing, she decides to find him.Louis C.K. and Kevin Hart in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)Max and Duke are rescued by a white rabbit named Snowball, the leader of “The Flushed Pets”—a gang of feral sewer-dwelling animals who hate humans because their owners mistreated and abandoned them. After Max and Duke pretend to despise humans as much as they do by saying they killed their owners, the Flushed Pets invite them to join. Before they can prove their loyalty by allowing a one-fanged viper to bite them, Snowball learns from the cats that Max and Duke are tamed. The two dogs escape the sewers and board a ferry to Brooklyn, inadvertently killing the viper in the process. Snowball vows to kill them and leads the Flushed Pets after them.Louis C.K. and Jenny Slate in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)Meanwhile, Gidget recruits a red-tailed hawk named Tiberius to find Max, but he mistakenly locates Ozone, whom Gidget coerces into telling what he knows about the dogs. They then enlist Mel, Buddy, Chloe, guinea pig Norman and Sweet Pea. On the way, they meet Pops, an old Basset Hound who helps Gidget and the pets find Max. Gidget and her team encounter Snowball, who vows to kill them as well, and Norman is captured as the rest of Gidget’s team flees.Louis C.K. in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)In the meantime, Max and Duke raid a sausage factory for food. While there, Duke tells Max about his previous owner, Fred, an elderly man who adopted him as a puppy and loved spending time with him. One day, Duke got lost while chasing a butterfly and was caught by Animal Control, but Fred never came to claim him. Max convinces him to visit Fred’s house in a nearby neighborhood, confident Fred will still love him and take him back. When they arrive at Fred’s house, they learn from the resident cat Reginald that Fred has died. Heartbroken, Duke accuses Max of attempting to get rid of him and barks at the new homeowners who have just returned to the house and called Animal Control. The handlers catch Max, but Duke interferes long enough for Max to escape and ends up being captured instead.Albert Brooks, Tara Strong, Chris Renaud, Lake Bell, Bobby Moynihan, Jenny Slate, and Hannibal Buress in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)While trying to rescue Duke as he follows the Animal Control van, Max is attacked by Snowball who tries to kill him. However, when his gang is captured, Snowball realizes that he and Max must work together to rescue them. They drive a city bus into the van on the Brooklyn Bridge, stopping traffic. The Flushed Pets encircle Max, unaware of his partnership with Snowball, but Gidget and her team save him. Upon seeing Gidget using her kung-fu fighting skills, Max starts to fall in love with her. The van gets stuck in scaffolding and the Flushed Pets escape. As soon as Max gets the keys to Duke’s cage, the van plummets into the East River with him inside. Max is unable to free Duke, so Snowball jumps into the river to retrieve the keys, allowing them to escape the sinking van.Louis C.K. and Lake Bell in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)The entire group returns to the apartment block by pig-driven taxi. Max expresses his love for Gidget, who returns his affection. Snowball and the Flushed Pets then come up with a new plan to annihilate all humans, but a little girl named Molly arrives and adopts Snowball and the remaining Flushed Pets return to the sewers. At first, Snowball resists, but gives in and lets himself become a domesticated pet. The other pets return to their homes and embrace their owners, and Max and Duke finally reunite with Katie, sparking a true friendship as brothers. In a post-credits scene, Buddy and Mel show up in costume at a party in poodle Leonard’s apartment, hosted by a now-friendlier Snowball.This is clearly aimed at kids but has plenty of humor that adults will enjoy. I’m in my 50s and laughed long and loud at some of the antics. The script is good and moves quickly. I was never bored.

REVIEW: THIS IS 40

 CAST

Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Leslie Mann (17 Again)
Megan Fox (Transformers)
Albert brooks (The Simpsons)
Jason Segal (How I Met Your Mother)
John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Melissa McCarthy (Spy)
Annie Mumolo (Bad Moms)
Robet Smigel (Pixels)
Charlyne Yi (Cloverfield)
Chris O’Dowd (St. Vincent)
Lena Dunham (Girls)
Tom Everett (Dances With Wolves)
Damon Gupton (Bates Motel)
Tatum O’Neal (Paper Moon)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Suzy Nakamura (Dr. Ken)

Leslie Mann, Melissa McCarthy, and Paul Rudd in This Is 40 (2012)This Is 40 is about, and in short, it’s exactly as advertised – Life at 40 with a family and other various responsibilities. Picking up some years after Knocked Up, Debbie and Pete (Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd respectively) are seemingly stuck in financial quicksand. Pete’s record label is tanking as a result of his unwillingness to change with the market, and a string of internal theft leaves Debbie’s clothing store to hemorrhage money they don’t really have. Their financial burden is exacerbated by a mooch of an in-law, and a long lost parent pops into the mix to perplex their lives that much more… and all this doesn’t even take their normal everyday stress into consideration. Their 13 year old daughter, Sadie, (Maude Apatow) is at that odd stage of life where ‘priorities’ are defined as keeping up with the latest and artificial trends in our pop-culture driven society. Oh, and dramatically acting out because she feels like her family is ruining her life, of course. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Charlotte (Iris Apatow), their sweet little 8 year old that’s struggling with a sister that’s too ‘mature’ and ‘cool’ to give her the time of day, not to mention her argumentative parents.Leslie Mann and Megan Fox in This Is 40 (2012)Conceptually speaking, it all sounds dry and unoriginal, but Apatow injecting this premise with a series of relatable issues keeps things interesting. Not only that, but all of the craziness in their lives never feels tacked on just for the sake of it, and that’s a hard thing for any director to accomplish with such subject matter. In Apatow’s latest however film, he’s able to make all of these moving parts play out like a symphony – Things begin with plenty of laughs, but as the relevant back story begins to fill us in on the issues that initiate the potential for their marriage to fall apart, Apatow finds a rhythm that effortlessly pulls us through all the highs and lows without making them feel like a burden. Paul Rudd and Chris O'Dowd in This Is 40 (2012)Of course it’s all somewhat sensationalized for the sake of entertainment, but this is the director’s most hilarious, yet awkwardly personal film to date. Rudd and Mann may have been the characters who practically stole the show in Knocked Up, but they work just as well as the focus in a full length feature film. Their comedic timing is nothing short of flawless, but Apatow deserves another pat on the back here as well – The characters were made by design to bicker in ways that are so brutally honest with reality, that some people may not want to acknowledge that what they’re seeing on screen actually hits close to home.The film’s in-laws, Albert Brooks and John Lithgow, who are entirely believable as the building blocks for much of Pete and Debbie’s ongoing strife. It was also nice to see Jason Segal back as, well, ‘Jason’, and Megan Fox was great as the sleazy, yet loveable floozy. She had a lot of fun playing the role, and it showed. Also another great turn from Melissa McCarthy too.