This is a guaranteed child pleaser from the outset – a whole host of vibrant, bright, amusing and wacky pets ranging from dogs and hamsters, cats and rabbits, crocodiles and canaries. From the producers of ‘Minions’, you know you’re in for an amusing and silly affair, but then again that’s what children’s films are all about. And there are so many nods to the ‘Minions’ film, you can’t help remember this is from the same team.
Packed with a talented voice cast who bring the assorted pets to life, and the one human owner, there is so much to offer both young and old audiences that I feel both will get something from this as all good animations set out to do in not alienating one or the other age group. The pets run into things, jump over things, fall over things, bounce off things and generally cause chaos as they traverse Manhattan in search of friends and owners alike which children will love. There is also enough sly adult jokes (without being crude) and witty chase sequences to have adults smiling along.
The story is very simple and predictable as this isn’t new territory for a children’s film really because we’ve seen the plot 20 years ago in ‘Toy Story’. Two underdogs (no pun intended) must come together to escape lots of mild danger when they are stranded away from home as their friends race to save them from a bunch of other mildly dangerous pets. There are a few spooky scenes in the sewers, but even that is laced with slapstick comedy and silly character actions that remind us it’s all just fun. With the premise that this is what our pets do behind closed doors when we are not there, it all adds to the silly enjoyment.
As with ‘Minions’, the screen is rarely dull and there is plenty of stunning attention to detail in both the pets and the city. The opening and closing shots are visually breath-taking for an animation, and it really gives you a sense of scope and the film feels very open and very “real” in that sense. Colour is important, and each frame is full of it whether it be the locations or the pets. And the pets in question, from the cute and heroic Max to the soft and shaggy Duke, are all rendered brilliantly.
Like I say, it’s nothing new, but it’s all about the way it’s presented and how a simple story is delivered. Pets take centre stage with lots of varied characters to find amusing, and there are dizzying chase above the streets, on the streets and below the streets to keep wide eyes entertained for 90mins. There is heart too, as expected, and a few tender moments for pathos, but nothing that will render audiences to tears like Pixar are good at doing, and there is more of a story and sentimental value to it unlike offerings like 'The Angry Birds Movie', but then it's a case of what do you want more; story, or slapstick?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and the team don’t try to fix anything in the animation genre, just dress it up in a new outfit for presentation.