NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are. THIS WEEK: Illumination (the folks behind the marvelous Minions movies) deliver a fresh animated take on pets. Cute dog Max (Louis C.K.) along with “new brother” Duke (Eric Stonestreet) go missing, so girl-dog Gidget (Jenny Slate) gathers his pet-pals together to find and rescue them from psycho bunny Snowball (Kevin Hart).
Written by Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch. Directed by Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney.
• Your pal Bru does not have any pets (can’t find one that lives on beer; I tried it with some fish but the carbination wasn’t good for their gills), but has seen enough to know this film has the behaviors spot on—especially the kitties and dogies. The gags in the hilarious trailer are all in the flick, plus a few more before the story kicks in. A lot of laughs from the audience.
• Speaking of laughs, there are plenty of both visual and verbal gags for all ages. And mercifully only a couple obligatory and obvious poop and pee jokes (too easy).
• Most of the voice-casting was perfect for the characters. You’d never expect downbeat comedian Louis C.K. to be a cartoon voice, but he pulled it off just fine (though he was mostly the straight man). Jenny Slate was perfect for puffy-dog Gidget, as was Lake Bell as Cloe. Bonuses were Albert Brooks as the aging Tiberius and Dan Carvey as the aging Pops (score one for the over-50 crowd)! But Kevin Hart stole the show as the bat-crap-crazy Snowball.
• Animation lived up to the voices, as you’d expect from the minions behind Minions. Again, Snowball stood out, going from a killer to killer-cute (and back) in a funny flash. The crazy kitty without hair, Ozone (Steve Coogan) was creepy-cool and “Who-cares-cat” Cloe was a favorite as well, but all of them were handled brilliantly.
• Equally impressive were the settings and backgrounds. The story takes place in New York, and the skyline shots were amazing in spots. The cars and houses were super-detailed along with grass, carpet and so on.
• Nice plot and story. It starts with the bond between Max and his owner (Ellie “Office/Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) Kemper, and the bond between pets and people is well-used without being too smarmy. And there’s plenty of suspense, thrills, chases, battles and even romance. (Warning: don’t get Gidget mad!)
All-new Minions short at the beginning! Need I say more? (Look for a flash-cameo of the gnome in the feature also.)
• Metal fans rejoice! System Of A Down and Andrew W.K. (often confused with Louis C.K.) each contribute a tune.
• Funny bit right after main credits start.
• Like Minions and Finding Dory, this is one you can take your little kiddies to and enjoy as much (if not more). Even too-cool-teens, if they have any animal love, would have to haha at this.
• While there are all kind of pets imaginable (including snakes), I didn’t see any Labs or Golden Retrievers (at least not in speaking roles), which to me are quintessential dogs. But there are other popular breeds not shown much or at all either, and the animators can’t please everybody.
• The Minions short had an unusual amount of bathroom/bodily-function humor, especially compared to their other movies. Might turn some viewers off.
• Those super-sensitive to violence for their tiny tots might object to some of the smacking and punching. (But remember, these are freakin’ toons!)
• The cars and people were stylized like the pets, but the buildings and grass and such were so real they almost looked like live action. I wish the environment was as stylized as the pets so it all looked like one cohesive, fun world (like the classic Warners ‘toons) rather than wacky characters in reality.
• No button after the end credits other than a voice telling everyone to go home. Meh.
First, see it at the theater! But the Blu-ray/DVD should be loaded with fun stuff, and this is definitely something you can watch every few years and enjoy again. Of course, if you have rugrats, they’ll pester you to have this at home so they can wear it out. Even better, watch it with your dog or cat or bird or (hopefully not psychotic) bunny and bond!
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DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, The Humane Society, the ASPCA, P.E.T.A., PAWS or the Beer-Drinkers Association. No animals were harmed during the making of this review, but one animal did drink a lot of beer and made disgusting noises afterwards. Do not feed him, and keep your hands, feet and breasts away from him at all times.