Copyright © 2016 by Universal Pictures
Living in Manhattan with his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper), Max (Louis C.K.) is protective and spends every possible moment with his best friend. He patiently waits for her return whenever she leaves the apartment. But he whiles away the time quickly with visits from his other animal friends within the vicinity. One day, Katie brings home a new dog, Duke (Eric Stonestreet) from the pound, angering Max. Sensing his hostility, Duke deceits Max into venturing farther to the city and they are extraordinarily captured by Animal Control. To free themselves and safely get back to Katie, the two dogs put their differences aside and form an obligatory alliance.
Positioning a few weeks after the release of ‘Finding Dory’, it looks as if the Universal production is ready for its own anthropomorphic animals challenging the combined strengths of Disney and Pixar. Domestically, it is closing in on ‘Zootopia’ and will vie for the runner up spot after the leggy sequel to ‘Finding Nemo’. No surprise that a follow up has been green-lighted.
Children and adults are loving the misadventures of Max and company which I presume will lead to a higher ownership rate once they are done with this 90-minute romp. Who wouldn’t? I sure would. The cast bring out the best in each character; C.K. suitably lends his acerbic wit as the threatened terrier, Kevin Hart is fabulously restrained and Albert Brooks is a delightful menace fending off his instinctual needs.
‘The Flushed Pets’ resistance where Snowball leads against the humans is the most fascinating aspect of this otherwise inconsequential tale from Chris Renaud whose previous entries, the ‘Despicable Me’ franchise featured sturdier storytelling. This is where Pixar (and now Disney) remain an unstoppable force not only as the leaders for revolutionary animation but as pioneers in novel and original concepts.
As with ‘Minions’, the jokes are abundant and the pace zips along furiously without letting up. Many of them work but the juvenile ones may have you rolling your eyes and facepalm to the age-old question: Really? Jenny Slate is a riot as Max’s love interest; Gidget’s arc undergoes a massive change. Sweet and shy, she is the epitome of purity until her inner beast is emancipated. If watching a Pomeranian losing it is one of your secret guilty pleasures, head over to the nearest screening now.
Acting (Voice): A
Rated PG for action and some rude humor