Summer is a great time of year to take little ones to the movies for a few different reasons. First of all, the geniuses at the big movie studios were wise enough to put out an array of flicks parents want to see just as badly as their kids. Movie creators seem to know there are only so many hours in a day that a person can try to keep a hot, sweaty toddler occupied before that person snaps... er, needs a break. The problem is knowing what a toddler will like and what they won't? For instance, is The Secret Life of Pets appropriate for toddlers?
Judging by the voice actors, it will definitely be funny. I'm thinking one of those movies with sly little winks towards the adults in the audience that will have them all chuckling while the kids say, "What? What's so funny?" The Secret Life of Pets features an all-star cast of voices like Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, and Ellie Kemper. The movie tells the story of a perfectly content terrier named Max who finds his life uprooted when a new stray dog, Duke, is introduced to his home. According to a review by Peter Travers for Rolling Stone:
I choked up a little. You will too. Another sucker found.
The Secret Life of Pets continues to dominate the box office, earning a respectable 74 percent on Rotten Tomatoes where the critics' consensus was:
Fast-paced, funny, and blessed with a talented voice cast, The Secret Life of Pets offers a beautifully animated, cheerfully undemanding family-friendly diversion.
But does that mean it's suitable for toddlers?
According to Common Sense Media, while there is some slightly inappropriate humor and a few darker moments, it's a great film for kids:
But underlying all this are positive messages about friendship, teamwork, perseverance, and empathy -- as well as the futility of revenge and the importance of being open to new friends and the experiences that life brings. Max and Duke's relationship could particularly resonate with blended families and/or those dealing with sibling issues.
But, there is just one more thing parents might want to consider before taking their toddlers to see The Secret Life of Pets: Are you ready to buy a pet? Because I can almost guarantee you, your little one is going to become relentless about getting a pet after this movie. And for those of you out there with a toddler, I'm sure you are perfectly aware of how single-minded the wee beasties can be when they want something.
It's all about the unconditional love pets give us, and I think little ones will be drawn to that.
So here is my take: The Secret Life of Pets is sweet and funny and light. It's colorful enough to keep kids invested and funny enough to keep them laughing long after they've wolfed down their snack.
But parents, forewarned is forearmed. Have your arguments for a pet-free household at the ready if that's the way you're going to swing it. Otherwise you'll be terrier shopping within 24 hours.