Pets On The Run, Makes For Silly Family Fun

Secret life of pets

Kids movies continue to swarm into the theaters, and Hollywood’s trailer editors have been hard at work baiting us in. With Disney owning the box office this summer, Illumination Entertainment (the creators of Despicable Me) are taking a shot at the box office run. This weekend we got The Secret Life Of Pets, a movie that has been highly anticipated since it’s trailer debut from so long ago. It was indeed a very entertaining trailer, but we all know how trailers can be deceptive now don’t we? So I have headed into the trenches again to report on the latest film to hit the silver screen.

 

The GOOD

  • Cute/Kid Friendly
  • Funny
  • Good animation

 

When you watch, or for many rewatch, the trailers you most likely saw the characters as cute, cuddly animals doing hilarious things. Good news! The trailer is accurate this time and provides the cute factor you expected (including the very scenes you saw in the trailer). All of the characters are adorable, the main ones being bouncy, fluffy, high-spirited animals that will make you want to say Awwwwww. Our design team found a way to maximize all the cute features of an animal and sell it to the families that will lead to merchandising. Even animals you wouldn’t think cute (like snakes, gators, and lizards) get the cuddly personifications. Hopefully you have gathered from this, that the design is kid friendly and will have your little ones enamored.

But cute is only the hook, what keeps the interest going in this film? The answer is the comedy of course. The stunts the animals pull are entertaining and the dialogue itself had me chuckling at many of the media references. Voice acting only helps sell the comedy more, especially Kevin Hart and all his high pitched screaming. Your kids though will be the ones to enjoy the comedy the most though, as it is slapstick, simplistic antics with digital pets. Running into walls, making funny faces, or going to the bathroom on the floor are just some of the things you will see that had toddlers chuckling in their seats.

And a small bonus, that really shouldn’t be a surprise, is that the animation is good. Illumination Entertainment certainly has their anatomy and physiology down being able to superimpose human qualities while still maintaining there animal qualities. Glad to know that our animation studios are still able to produce great works. If only they could have put that effort into the next few qualities.

 

THE BAD

  • The Story
  • Lack of Uniqueness
  • Trailers showed you a lot of the movie

 

With the comedy and animation being the obvious focus, you have to wonder how the story fared in this movie. Unfortunately…it didn’t fare that well. Oh it’s not that bad at all, but the problem is that it lacks anything memorable or emotionally driving for me. The writers crammed a lot of plots into a short 90 minutes run time, and the resulting production was a very rushed, shallow tale with little development. A split focus resulted in little emotional build-up, and there was no intriguing qualities to keep my attention on any of the cast. And the goal they were trying to achieve was very limited and didn’t really set any time limit or urgency to the tale.

To add more fuel to that fire, The Secret Life of Pets wasn’t really that unique of a movie. We’ve had talking pet movies before, where anthropomorphic animals traverse a city or town that often involves a very extreme villain (think Oliver and Company or Homeward Bound). Those tales stick home because they had edge, depth, and moments that stick out in your mind. Not the case with this movie, as again there was no drive to make our pets grow, develop, or even go through much struggle at all. It doesn’t have any twists to mix things up either, and therefore leaves little to spoilt. In addition, much of the movie, including a lot of the funny parts, is revealed in the three trailers out and therefore you can save yourself some major bucks by just rewatching all of the trailers. Yeah, I know that is definitely a disappointing factor.

 

The Verdict

            The Secret Life Of Pets is exactly what the trailer promises, fun, entertaining, and wildly adorable. Younger audience members, as well as those very young at heart, are the target group for this movie hands down. It has the laugh factor certainly, and the cast of characters are a motley crew that I certainly enjoyed. However, the story is very simplistic, the lack of emotional suspense, and that much of the movie is told in the trailers make this movie not the most memorable of the summer. I can’t say it is worth a trip to the theater in comparison to some of the other kid movies, but it makes for a good family outing.

 

My scores are:

 

Animation/Comedy/Family: 7.5-8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

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The Purge 3: A Vote For Violence, a Vote For Suspense

Purge 3

            With the holiday coming up, the movie industry is doing its best to rope people into the theaters. You would think something patriotic like a war story, a biography of a founding father, or some type of political coming of age movie. But my first review is on a horror instead…that has to due with politics. My review is on The Purge: Election Year, the third installment in a series I never expected to have this much ground. Yours truly heads into the trenches to provide you another review and help guide your thoughts on how to spend your tickets in the theaters.

 

The GOOD:

  • Comedy
  • Semi Decent plot
  • Suspenseful

 

The first point has to be a surprise, but yes the Purge: Election Year has some decent comedy to lighten up the aggressively somber mood. I mainly laughed at the commentary from Joe, a local deli shop owner with an interesting background on his own. Joe’s lines are a menagerie of one-liners, quips, and racial banter that had the audience laughing. Despite some of the intense moments, the writers made the lines very tasteful, making sure to add a fun edge that hopefully won’t insult the masses. Some of the other characters have their moments as well, timed equally well to maximize the laughs.

But you didn’t come for laughs, you came for suspense that the night of legalized murder has provided in the past. You might think that a third installment has lost its edge, but surprisingly Election Year keeps the same on the seat moments as the last one. Like its predecessor, this movie takes our characters onto the streets, each forging their own path through the chaotic forest of crazy violence. I was pulled into the movie not by the mindless killing, but by the wonder of which member of the merry band would bite the dust.

Part of what helped this was a semi-decent, albeit rushed, plot that had a little more backbone than mindless murder. Election Year’s plot brings us further down the rabbit hole as to the point of the Purge and fills into those pot holes left at the end of the second movie. It’s nothing special, but the character profiles were what kept my interest and fostered a bond with all the characters.

 

The BAD

  • Pointless cursing/overacting
  • Violence substituted for plot
  • All the political issues it can drum up

 

No surprise, but a Rated R movie is going to have cursing, I get that I do. But as always the case, our writers get a little overzealous with dirtying the mouths of characters. Election Year unfortunately is not spared that fate as characters, mainly extras, fill their roles with overacted, dramatically-emphasized cursing that is more annoying than anything. I know it is to make you hate the character who will certainly die in the end, but they could have done it without such grandiose tactics. The silver lining of this, it is for limited run times so yay for that.

A second weakness for me, is substituting the violence for the plot. Now don’t rip my head off, it is the Purge, a holiday that is only about violence and celebrating death, of course there will be violence. However, the Purge really needs to drop the glorified torture scenes and disturbing dances of craziness to provide more kick to their tale. That doesn’t mean get rid of it all, after all there were plenty of jump at you moments where the violence was perfect, but Election Years tangents showing mask-wearing extras dancing or setting an elaborate trap that really doesn’t work. This is another example of editing not eliminating all unnecessary scenes.

But perhaps the biggest weakness for me is the political issues this movie is sure to spark. Back in the day, you could make a movie like this and not start a revolution, but modern times have left our people a little more easily offended these days. The Purge’s overdramatic antics, dialogue, and factions are certainly going to divide people and perhaps incite their own revolution on some level. All of the excessive violence, racial slurs, and political issues are over glorified, and I saw these effects take fruit in my theater with a few overzealous fans. So why did I bring this point up? Two reasons. The first is the political rants and corrupt speeches are cheesy, overdone, and eye rolling. The second is that if you are easily offended, no matter how much you like horror, you should not see this movie.

 

The Verdict

Despite being a third installment, The Purge Election Year certainly brings the same bite it always has. Yes, it is overdramatic and glorifies violence, and at times is certainly reflective of a mad man’s mind. However, as far as horror movies go, it is surprisingly decent in terms of plot, action, and suspense that will entertain many of this genre. With interesting characters and a fast moving pace, you certainly won’t be bored for the 105 minute run time. Necessary for a trip to the theater? Not really, but those who love the dive into the mad realm of murder, will certainly enjoy this tale.

 

My scores:

 

Action/Horror/Sci-Fi: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0