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The Secret Life of Pets As Seen Through the Eyes of a Seven-Year-Old Boy

Published in ChicagoNow, July 18, 2016 at 1:49 pm

The Secret Life of Pets is definitely a movie to attend with kids. We happened to take our Indiana grandchildren, ages three, seven, and nine, to see it. They were primed to love this movie. They have three dogs and their mother is a vet. So, they had been counting down the weeks all summer until the movie opened.

Our three-year-old grandson loved the entire movie and even applauded at the end. I must preface his reaction by explaining his trepidation about seeing animated films in a movie theater. On the way there, he asked if we were seeing Finding Nemo and informed me he was afraid of the movie because Nemo was flushed down the toilet. In his mind, if a talking fish could be flushed down the toilet, what would prevent his now toilet-trained self from suffering the same fate? Despite the fact that The Secret Life of Pets had some evil characters, led by a demonic bunny called Snowball, he sat calmly through numerous chase scenes in which the somewhat frightening bad pets tried to harm the good ones and smiled his sweet little smile. In the end he pronounced the movie “very good with nothing scary.” Go figure?

Our nine-year-old granddaughter thought the first part of Pets, which showed what pets do when left home alone while their owners went to work was hilarious. I have to agree. If you have seen the trailer for this movie and have ever owned a dog, I’m guessing you laughed over Max’s slavish devotion to his owner. His original plan for the day was to sit by the door awaiting her return. And for the cat fanciers, there was the obese cat Chloe polishing off her owner’s dinner. During the second part of the movie, especially during the crazy antics to rescue the good pets from the dog catchers and the evil pets, my granddaughter seemed more concerned about her younger brother’s behavior than with the movie’s plot.

She was horrified that her seven-year-old brother kept shouting out remarks like watch out, go that way, don’t let him get you, and stay out of there as the evil pets pursued the good ones. But this was a kiddy flick with a noisy audience, so we kept reassuring her that his movie manners were fine. He was just so into the story that he couldn’t sit still.

On the way home, I asked him what the movie was all about. I was curious as to why he became so involved in the plot and found the action so exciting. Much to my surprise, he didn’t focus at all on what his sister and I enjoyed. In his most serious voice, he explained that the bad pets were jealous of the good ones because their owners had abandoned them and they were forced to live in the sewers. They didn’t have anyone to love or care for them. **SPOILER ALERT HERE** When the wicked bunny found a little girl to love him at the end, he became happy and thoroughly domesticated. The crazy chase scenes and fighting between the pets was my grandson’s idea of great fun, but he told me he liked that Pets had a happy ending.

In this world filled with too much hatred and division, I guess a movie that teaches a seven-year-old about the transformative power of loving and caring for another being, even for a really wicked bunny, gets a pretty good review in my book.


by Laurie Levy
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