The Secret Life Of Pets

In Illumination Animation’s new feature, we are brought on a journey to discover the truth of what our pets do when we turn our backs. Particularly centered on the lives of a group of neighborhood pets in New York City. Max is a Jack Russell Terrier(close enough) who loves his human Katie. They are devoted to each other and are living life like no others but the tranquility of this paradise is upturned by a large, shaggy beast known as Duke. Rivalry comes into place right away as Max tries to find a way to get rid of Duke and reclaim his rightful place in Katie’s heart, and his old dog bed. However, when Max finds his upper hand, he overplays it and soon he and Duke are collarless and lost in the Big Apple with no other choice but to depend on each other to find their way back home.

Not quite ‘Despicable Me’, but way better than ‘Minions’, this movie boasts a bouncy, bubbly appearance with a cast of cleverly designed and written characters ranging from cats and dogs to crocodiles and hawks. The story is brisk and moves with a lot of slapstick physical humor along with some clever word play and a few hidden gems that require you to be observant or you’ll miss. The chemistry between the characters is natural and believable. You will buy a poodle becoming best friends with a hawk. It works. While not exactly hitting the emotional depth of a Pixar film, there is an emotional center to Duke’s story that gives hope to something deeper, but unfortunately any movement in that direction is cut short. Very clearly made for a family audience and on that merit, it hits all the right notes. Never boring and always visually engaging. Definitely one to check out. I did not see it in its 3-D format, but I think, based on the opening sequence, it would have been even more impressive.

Now, for the audience. I will go easy on this part of my review because it was a family movie and my friend insisted on going to a mid afternoon show. There were kids. Lots of kids. They were actually rather complacent during the movie. I think that is credited to the films bright and fun look. It was animated and frenetic enough to hold their attention spans. I heard a few babies crying and there was one little girl who was standing on her seat, hopping up and down, but those were minor annoyances overall. For the type of film and the make up of the audience, it wasn’t an unpleasant experience; but I would advise if you are without children, check out a late show of this movie to hopefully ensure a low kid turn out.

Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates

New idea. I’m going to start reviewing the movies I see but I will also review the audience. You’ll see.

Up first is the new comedy “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” starring Zac Efron, Adam Divine, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza

First off, I wasn’t aware there was any truth to this movie, but apparently there’s really a Mike and Dave Stangle out there and they did something that was crazy enough to rate a movie being made. I’ll have to research this later, but for now let’s look at the movie.

First of all, our leads are cute, funny and disarmingly adorable from the very start. We like Mike and Dave right off and we can see these are two devoted, close brothers. Every moment we see them on screen you’re just waiting for the next crazy thing they will say, and one of them will say it. Enter the girls who are a different flavor but are just as fun as the guys. They’re two fun loving girls who walk on the wild side, but aren’t bad bad. Just fun bad, and when they find out Mike and Dave are offering a free trip to Hawaii to attend their little sister’s wedding they set out to be those dates. They attack the situation in a different angle than everyone else attempting to join Mike and Dave, showing while they may be fun loving, they’re also deviously clever.

Of course the girls win the guys over and mission accomplished, but when they realize they have to keep up the appearance of respectable young women, things get a little dicey, but not before they manage to ingratiate themselves to Mike and Dave’s family.

The humor never gets stale and thankfully in parts that could have dragged on forever, the director chose to be merciful and compact those bits into brief montages leaving more time for the actual story to unfold.

A very brisk comedy and full of plenty of bite as well as a good amount of humanity. Anna Kendrick comes in as an odd card but easily wins everyone over with her ditzy allbeit sweet disposition. Aubrey Plaza is the edgier of the two girls, which should come to no one as a surprise. It’s what she does well and this time is no exception. Her character is a bit more lively than what she played on ‘Parks & Recreation’ and it suits her. The guys are just fantastic playing off the girls as they begin to slowly realize their dates are a bit more than they thought they were. Zac wields his big eyes and sweet ‘aw shucks’ personality. His chemistry with Adam is totally organic and it’s clear they are playing off each other beautifully. Well cast and never a dull moment, this is a date you will want to keep.

Now, for the audience. It was a pretty full auditorium considering it was opening night. We were packed in. My friend to my left and some kid on my right. There was some whispering in the rows behind me but not too much. My main complaint comes from the row in front of me. There was one couple who could not see to keep their mouths shut for the whole movie as they constantly whispered to each other when anything happened. Then there was a gaggle of girls who came in late in the trailers who seemed to have come just for Zac because they couldn’t shut up whenever he was on screen. I have no idea what the chatter was about, but I’m sure it was some unrealistic dreaming of becoming Mrs. Efron. One of the girls was wrestling with what had to be the loudest bag of popcorn in ¬†history ¬†for about half the film and during one particular scene toward the end, they kept cooing like they had never felt human emotion before today. Not as annoying as a horror movie crowd, but enough to raise my blood temp a degree or two, yet not bad enough to spoil the movie. Either they were better than I thought or the movie was. How knows?

That’s it for this review. Until next time, if someone’s talking in the theater, just tell them to shut up. You know you want to.