Adventure Animation

'The Secret Life of Pets' Blu-ray Review: From Minions to man's best friend

December 6, 2016Ben Mk





FEATURE: 
There was a time when Disney/Pixar was the only game in Tinsel Town when it came to quality animated films (computer-animation or otherwise). However, a lot has changed in the past two decades, and with the proliferation of studios like Dreamworks Animation, Laika Entertainment and Illumination Entertainment, moviegoers' choices now seem to stretch to infinity and beyond.


Case in point: The Secret Life of Pets, a film that embodies an inherently Disney-esque approach to its storytelling, but which comes from directors Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney, the filmmakers behind both Despicable Me movies. With a star-studded (and extremely adult-friendly) voice cast that includes the likes of Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Ellie Kemper, Kevin Hart, Albert Brooks, Jenny Slate, Lake Bell and Hannibal Buress, The Secret Life of Pets attempts to answer the burning question — Just what do our pets do when we're not around?

The answer — it would seem — is whatever the heck they please, as we learn during a delightful early sequence that gives audiences a glimpse at all the wacky vices our pets love to indulge in while we're away, from eating a whole baked turkey straight out of the fridge and using an electric mixer as a back-scratcher, to scurrying through air vents, urinating in planters and rocking out to heavy metal music. Plus, if you've ever wondered what would ever happen if our canine pals got free rein inside a sausage factory, well, the movie has that covered too.

The result is exactly what you might expect, which is to say that while The Secret Life of Pets is heartwarming, hilarious and absolutely gorgeous to look at, it also won't win points for originality, with the script by Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch drawing obvious inspiration from Pixar's Toy Story, with shades of Monsters Inc. thrown in for good measure. That being said, The Secret Life of Pets is simply too cute not to fall in love with, especially if you're still riding the high from Disney's Zootopia, or are just an animal lover in general.

AUDIO & VISUALS: 
The Secret Life of Pets debuts on Blu-ray with a dazzling 1080p video presentation that meets — if not exceeds — all the expectations one might have of a brand-new, CG-animated film. From fur to feathers to scales, image quality is razor-sharp and pixel-perfect; hues are exceptionally bright and vibrant, whether it's the colorful exteriors of the New York City apartment buildings or the vivid blue skies above them; and contrast levels are top-notch, which allows every frame of the film to pop. As for the accompanying Dolby Atmos soundtrack, it too is quite impressive, resulting in crystal-clear acoustics all the way through, whether it's dialogue, the film's pop music soundtrack, or the sounds of hissing cats, barking dogs, squealing pigs or screeching birds.


EXTRAS: 
Universal's two-disc Blu-ray release includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • The Humans that Brought You Pets (8:43) - A series of five brief featurettes spotlighting the filmmakers behind the movie ("Chris Meledandri," "Janet Healy," "Chris Renaud," "Yarrow Cheney" and "Brian Lynch").
  • Animals Can Talk: Meet the Actors (3:47) - Kevin Hart, Lake Bell, Bobby Moynihan, Eric Stonestreet and Jenny Slate talk about lending their voices to the film's characters.
  • All About the Pets (6:26) - Animal trainer Molly O'Neill introduce Eric Stonestreet and Kevin Hart to various animals, from domesticated pets like kittens and puppies, to more exotic critters, like an African pygmy hedgehog and an albino Burmese python.
  • Hairstylist to the Dogs (3:41) - Eric Stonestreet finds out what it takes to groom a dog from pet groomer Jess Rona.
  • How to Make an Animated Film (4:13) - The filmmakers talk about making the movie, from the challenges, to the character design, to the voice cast, to the musical score.
  • Anatomy of a Scene (4:46) - A look at the different departments involved in the making of one animated scene, from character modeling, to hair and fur, to layout, to character animation, to compositing.
  • The Best of Snowball (1:15) - A montage of scenes featuring Kevin Hart's Snowball the white rabbit.
  • "Lovely Day" Lyric Video (2:23) - An animated lyric video for the song, featuring the characters from the movie.
  • Hot Dog Sing-Along (1:12) - A clip of the sausage factory dream sequence from the film, this time with karaoke-style lyrics.
  • Fandango's Brian the Minion on Pets (2:46) - Three Mystery Science Theater 3000 style vignettes, in which the Minions watch scenes from The Secret Life of Pets and one of its accompanying shorts, as presented by Fandango.
  • GoPro's The Secret Life of Pets (2:04) - A promotional piece for GoPro.
  • Sing Trailer (4:02) - An extended trailer for Illumination's next film, Sing.
  • Mini-Movies (19:56) - Three mini-movies ("Norman TV," "Weenie" and "Mower Minions"), plus a brief making-of featurette on all three ("The Making of the Mini-Movies").


The Secret Life of Pets is available from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment as of December 6th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 27 Mins.






* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on July 8th, 2016.



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