Max (Louis C.K) is a happy-go-lucky terrier content with life in a New York apartment until his owner brings home a stray, borderline-obnoxious mutt by the name of Duke (voiced by the hilarious Eric Stonestreet). Tension quickly grow between the two until there rivalry accidentally gets them caught up with a society of rogue animals lead by Kevin Hart’s cute but evil fluffy bunny. Although he is no match for the Rabbit of Caerbannog as Monthy Python fans will attest to.
There’s a lot to like about this feature – from the beautiful shots of the New York skyline to the perfectly composed score that accompanies each scene – the film is extremely well put together from a technical point of view. The story unfortunately is not and once again shows the biggest flaw Illumination has – memorable characters, mediocre story.
The brilliantly constructed trailer does a fantastic job of asking the question, what do our pets do when we’re not home? The trouble is it also answers that very question in the same montage. This footage is all taken from the first 10mins of the film so there’s not much else to tell about what animals do home alone for the remaining 80mins.
Instead, like a lost puppy the film chases after one narrative car, then another, then another. The comparison to Toy Story is obvious from the offset and along the way you will be reminded of a host of animated films from Flushed Away to An American Tail. The story dashes from a duo forced to learn how to share attention to understanding the pain of deserted pets to a love story to a tale of despair, all before the film decides that the real secret is simply that pets enrich our lives everyday.
The thing is, even despite the flaws this is a funny film that the majority of people are going to enjoy.
There are a flock of characters that you’ll get a kick out of, including Steve Coogan’s alley cat and a moshing poodle owned by an aristocrat (although there’s not enough of him in the film). There’s also a few great moments which typify each animals behaviour, such as a cat lording her superior intellect over dogs by teasing them with a ball, shortly before she is distracted by a laser pointer on the floor.
Illumination are less than a decade old so are still relatively new to the game when compared to Pixar or Universal. SLOP proves that they are more than capable of competing with the big boys without the reliance of there much loved Minions (although there is an extremely amusing short before hand featuring these bumbling henchmen). The only downside is that it shows there is still a way to go before the studio is able to tell a deep and meaningful story that contains just as much humour.
The Verdict | A fun, pretty animation that will make for an enjoyable evening out. Sadly, it will probably be forgotten once Pixar’s Finding Dory is released in a few weeks time.