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: HOT FUZZ

CAST
Simon Pegg (Star Trek)
Nick Frost (Paul)
Matin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Stuart Wilson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3)
Paul Freeman (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie)
Timothy Dalton (Flash Gordon)
Jim Broadbent (Gangs of New York)
Paddy Considine (The Bourne Ultimatum)
Rafe Spall (Prometheus)
Stephen Merchant (The Big Bang Theory)
Rory McCann (Game of Thrones)
Lucy Punch (Into The Woods)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Olivia Coleman (The Favourite)
Bill Bailey (Chalet Girl)
Edward Woodward (The Wicker Man)
Alice Lowe (Prevenge)
David Bradley (The World’s End)
Steve Coogan (Philomena)
Peter Jackson (King Kong)
Police Constable Nicholas Angel, a high-achieving member of the Metropolitan Police Service, is promoted to Sergeant but it comes with being transferred to the village of Sandford, Gloucestershire,[7] for being too good at his job while making his colleagues look bad by comparison due to his skills. Angel finds the town is generally devoid of any crime, with its local Neighbourhood Watch Alliance (NWA) helping to keep the peace as everyone prepares for the “Village of the Year” award contest. Angel finds minor instances of disorderly conduct, during which he confiscates a shed full of unlicensed fire arms including a naval mine, pursues an escaped swan, and arrests a drunk driver who turns out to be his new partner PC Danny Butterman, the son of town chief Inspector, Frank Butterman.
Just as Sgt. Angel begins to despair at Sandford’s apparent tranquility, the town is struck by a series of deaths. Angel begins to suspect a serial killer is afoot and that the murders are linked, although Danny seems more concerned with discussing his love of action and buddy cop films. Furthermore, the rest of the police force refuse to believe the deaths were deliberate and pass them off as mere accidents. Eventually, Angel’s investigations lead him to accuse the local supermarket manager, NWA member Simon Skinner, of the murders, but is rebuffed when Skinner’s alibi is backed up by video footage. Dejected, Angel considers the possibility of more than one killer being involved, but after this idea is shot down by Inspector Butterman, he returns home. As he opens his door, though, Angel is attacked by a cloaked figure, who turns out to be an employee at Skinner’s supermarket. Angel subdues the man, then impersonates him over a walkie-talkie to discover Skinner’s whereabouts.
Arriving at a meeting of the Sandford NWA, Angel confronts the group and tries to arrest them. They confess they are collectively carrying out the murders of any residents who could cause Sandford not to be crowned Village of the Year. Inspector Butterman then reveals himself to be the leader of the group, explaining that he is motivated by the memory of his late wife Irene, who committed suicide after her efforts to win that title were foiled by a group of “gypsies”. Upon hearing this, the Sergeant is forced to flee, but he becomes trapped in a crypt where he discovers the bodies of the NWA’s ill-fated victims. It seems that Angel is about to be caught, when Danny suddenly appears and stabs him, causing the Sergeant to lose consciousness. He awakens in Danny’s car, where the younger Butterman reveals he only faked Angel’s murder to cover his escape. Danny begs his partner to leave Sandford for his own safety.
Initially Angel plans to follow Danny’s wishes, but has a change of heart en route to London when he notices some of Danny’s favourite films for sale at a service station. He proceeds to return to Sandford, arms himself with the previously confiscated guns, and reunites with Danny. After a firefight with NWA townsfolk, the two policemen rally their fellow officers and besiege Skinner’s supermarket, eventually forcing Skinner to flee. Angel and Danny give chase, catching up to Skinner in the village’s miniature scale-model town and confronting both him and the elder Butterman, in turn. Sgt. Angel and Danny finally succeed in arresting them, after a fist fight and a swan-induced car crash.
Some time later, Angel declines a request to return to his job on the London force to remain in Sandford. As he and the other police officers process paperwork related to their recent activities, the last NWA member at liberty, Prof. Weaver, bursts into the station and attempts to kill Sgt. Angel. As the officers attempt to disarm him, he stumbles into the confiscated sea mine and triggers it. Angel and the others manage to survive the ensuing explosion which destroys the station. One year later, Angel and Danny are in charge of the Sandford Police as Inspector and Sergeant, respectively.
The film certainly keeps you entertained and interested. Its a sort of who-dunnit with a funny twist. If you love British humour, you will probably like this movie.

REVIEW: ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (1998)

CAST

Kate Beckinsale (Underworld)
Penelope Wilton (Match Point)
Geoffrey Palmer (Paddington)
Paulette P. Williams (About a Boy)
Siân Phillips (Dune)
Steve Coogan (Tropic Thunder)
Marc Warren (Wanted)
Ian Holm (The Hobbit)
Ian Richardson (From Hell)

Kate Beckinsale in Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998)
 Alice Through the Looking Glass is a rather faithful adaptation of the Lewis Carroll story, though some distinction should be made between Alice Through the Looking Glass and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. There are no mad tea parties, no chasing of a white rabbit, no imminent threat of decapitation, no Cheshire Cat, no puffing caterpillars, and for those familiar with the Disney animated film, I suppose there’s little point in continuing on with such a list as you’re already well-acquainted with the basics of that story. While one shouldn’t go in anticipating a live-action spin on the familiar Disney film, some elements do cross over, such as Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum, and their story of the Walrus and Carpenter. Otherwise, it’s very much its own story.
 opening with a rather sleepy mother reading to her young daughter, who convinces her to…well, peer at the title for some small hint. Despite Alice’s continual claims that she’s seven years and six months exactly, she’s portrayed by Kate Beckinsale, who’s a good bit older (but certainly easier to look at). Some moments in Carroll’s story, such as the Lion and the Unicorn, are dispensed with entirely, but the bulk of the dialogue is presented verbatim. That more than anything is what entranced me. The movie is almost wall-to-wall dialogue, with virtually no stretches without someone saying something. The deft wordplay typically involves a very rational Alice trying to converse with characters ensnared in their own circular, non-sensical logic.
Kate Beckinsale in Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998)
 Alice Through the Looking Glass is a charming, clever story, and this adaptation is accordingly a charming, clever film. I’m not convinced that very young children would get much out of it, and as the execution is decidedly British, viewers who are turned off by such things should certainly steer clear. I personally enjoyed Alice Through the Looking Glass quite a bit.