The Secret Life of Pets (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

The Secret Life of Pets 4KThe Secret Life of Pets was a film we never made it to theatrically this year.  It wasn’t because we did not want to see it, quite the contrary, but it was just a bad timing thing.  Time is our enemy in life.   Then came news of the fact that this title was coming to the superior Ultra HD Blu-ray format in December.  I jumped at the chance to be one of the first peeps to review it.  Call it an ego thing or call it what you want.  I just really wanted to see it.  See I don’t have any kids in my life.  I’m too selfish and impatient to ever have them.  However, what I do have are loving, adorable pets.  They are my kids to me and I know I love my son Star-Lord just as much as Brandon Peters loves Logan.  If I could give him my extra kidney in time of need, I would without hesitation.  That and so many reasons more is why I have been smitten by the idea of The Secret Life of Pets ever since it was first announced.  And now the wait is finally over!  Join me in talking everything fur babies down below.

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If you’re keeping score, here’s a fun fact.  The Secret Life of Pets is Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures’ fifth animated feature-film collaboration.  It’s billed as a comedy about the lives our pets lead when we leave for work or school.  The film is written by the same team behind the Despicable Me flicks that I loathe so much because of those vexing Minions.  But why stop there?  The movie is also directed by Chris Renaud (Despicable Me franchise) and co-directed by Yarrow Cheney (Despicable Me franchise).  Do you see a pattern developing here?  Going into this one on paper I was destined to hate it.  Thank God he works in mysterious ways as I loved what I saw here.

First things first though.  Since we’re talking about an animated cast let’s talk the voice talents so you can enjoy the flick without wondering who’s saying what throughout.  The all-star voice cast includes Louis C.K. (TV’s Louie), Eric Stonestreet (TV’s Modern Family), Kevin Hart (Ride Along Series), Jenny Slate (Zootopia), Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Lake Bell (TV’s Children’s Hospital), Dana Carvey (Wayne’s World), Hannibal Buress (Neighbors series), Bobby Moynihan (TV’s “Saturday Night Live), Steve Coogan (Minions) and Albert Brooks (Finding Dory).

If you want the perfect movie reviewer critique of The Secret Life of Pets look no further than Aaron Neuwirth’s review of it over here.  I think he captures the semantics of it perfectly.  Now unlike Aaron we take care of more than just a spider.  We have a son, Star-Lord (chiweenie), a daughter, Kandi (rat terrier), and another daughter who’s a…umm…guinea pig named Cinnamon.  They are our kids and I get sick to my stomach every time I have to leave them as they probably just sit there all day and sulk longing for our arrival back home or wondering if we abandoned them or something.  All you that have fur babies as kids simply just get what I am saying.  However, there’s one negative with fur babies.  They make traveling near impossible and oh so damn expensive.

Our story revolves around a fun loving, loyal terror named Max, voiced by Louis C.K.  He lives a perfect, content life until his owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper), does the unspeakable.  She brings home Duke (Eric Stonestreet) a big, goofy, deceitful mutt she rescues from the shelter.  If things aren’t bad enough for Max, who’s being bullied by his new unruly roommate, they’re about to get worse ten-fold.  I won’t divulge any spoilers here other to say that Max and Duke end up slipping away from their dog-walker.  Suddenly they find themselves lost in the jungle known as New York City.  Through various attempts to stay ahead of the dreaded animal control men and a rebel band of abandoned pets led by a lunatic bunny named Snowball (Kevin Hart), Max and Duke must put aside their differences to survive it all.  However, that’s not to say they also don’t get a little help from their friends along the way too.  That’s all I’ll say on the matter as the film’s 90-minute run time is both fast and furious.

So needless to say the pet owner in me had an absolute blast with this one.  Everything that happened onscreen I could somewhat relate to the thought of that’s what must be going through my son’s little bean while we’re gone at work all day.  Of course we work daily jobs to afford their existence too.  Ha ha.  They rule our lives just like real kids indeed would.  Just because this is an animated film that appeals mostly to kids doesn’t mean the essence of good storytelling is lost on it.  Now I won’t say it’s quite the level of a Toy Story Pixar film, but it managed to pull on my heartstrings a few times more than I care to admit.

The best part about The Secret Life of Pets is the fact that it’s quickly paced and 90-minutes went by like nothing.  Acts 1 through 3 were clearly defined and the film’s resolution was both quick and effective in leaving a smile on my face.  Had it been two hours it would’ve tried my patience, but I believe the quick nature of it all was picture-perfect and who can resist all the pets, stereotypes, jokes and heavy metal music to be found throughout here?  Yep!  I said heavy metal music.  Bang your head!  The chihuahua was absolutely adorable too.  What?  I’m just saying.  Okay here’s my man card.  Ha ha.  Truth be told, any moments spent with the villainous rabbit here are quite rude and crude.  They really push the boundaries of that PG-rating with some off-colored pop culture mentions, but in the end it’s all in good fun.  In the end every one finds redemption here and that’s what is most endearing about The Secret Life of Pets in my opinion.

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The below video score and related critique of things here are based upon my viewing of Universal’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of The Secret Life of Pets.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Layers: BD-66
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Clarity/Detail: It kind of feels dumb even trying to justify my rating here.  The Secret Life of Pets is R-E-F-E-R-E-N-C-E for an animated feature on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.  It looks like a million bucks and I quite frankly never seen my 4K set this look so glorious animatedly speaking.  Even though everything is animated here it’s ironically the textures that makes this presentation pop with not only prominence, but also authority and crispness.  It’s the clarity and detail in the fur, whiskers, noses, saliva, rugs, wood grains, concrete floors, grass and even the NY City scenery on display that make this presentation absolutely impeccable and amazing to behold and take in.
  • Depth: I kind of mentioned the three-dimensional pop of everything here up above so it should come as no surprise that depth of field is nothing short of sheer excellence here.  The most amazing parts of this feature are the city streets and sweeping aerial shots of New York City.  I know how insane that sounds given it’s an animated motion picture, but I’m telling the animated sets and scenery throughout is breathtaking and marvelous.  Ha!  That looks funny even typing it.
  • Black Levels: Thanks in part to 4K’s HDR presentation the black levels of The Secret Life of Pets makes this animated feature look both natural in appearance and authentic in the event that the onscreen sets, characters and backgrounds were real.  So I guess all in all the details within all the shadows and dark scary moments make the black levels look exceptional.
  • Color Reproduction: To compliment the fabulous black levels the Wide Color Gamut is in charge full force here with a splendor of colors, shades and details within every frame of The Secret Life of Pets making things picture perfect here.
  • Flesh Tones: I’m marking this N/A (not applicable) because how do you talk about flesh tones and temperatures when this is an animated feature, not to mention the fact all about animals too for the most part.
  • Noise/Artifacts: There’s absolutely nothing to bash The Secret Life of Pets about.  It’s the greatest looking animated feature I have ever seen thus far completely void of any blemishes.  You gotta love this new 4K format!

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Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of The Secret Life of Pets.  Universal did not skimp in the audio department here.  Both the 4K UHD disc and the regular 1080p Blu-ray come armed with a Dolby Atmos surround track remixed specifically for the home theater environment to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead.  Oh yeah!

  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English DVS (Descriptive Video Service), Spanish 7.1 Dolby Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Audio
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
  • DynamicsThe Secret Life of Pets should be retitled “The Secret Life of Dynamics.”  The quiets and highs are all over the place here and faithfully reproduced with the utmost of authenticity throughout in this surround sound presentation.  From the simplest metal dog tag rattling to the aggressive head banging tendencies sparked by the heavy metal anthems The Secret Life of Pets was a pleasure to be part of with all its immersive qualities and intricacies of the surround track.  I actually had to turn this one down half way through as its so robust, full and abrasively loud…just the way I like it…in your face!
  • Height: The use of Dolby Atmos isn’t something you ordinarily think of when it comes to the mention of a PG-rated, animated kids film.  However, don’t let that safe PG-rating fool you.  The Atmos height track is put to good use here in example moments such as a part character flapping and flying overhead, cats meowing from above, Max’s screams when airborne and the gang of friends sliding down a yellow tunnel from atop a skyscraper.
  • Low Frequency Extension: Believe it or not the subwoofer’s LFE channel here can be quite punishing.  There’s a lot of zany action happening onscreen.  However, remember me talking about the moments of heavy metal music up above?  The subwoofer really pumps you up and serves up quite the aggression of the heavy metal riffs used here.  It’s also employed to round everything out here from the film’s many action sequences and The Secret Life of Pet‘s bumping/infectious soundtrack to the rumbles and nuances of every day life in the Big Apple.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: The Secret Life of Pets doesn’t let you down in the surround sound department either.  The great part about this surround track is its directionality and prioritization of events going on in front of you and thus all around you.  What I am trying to say is that the surround’s soundscape is both accurate and authentic with its directionality and precise proportion to what’s transpiring onscreen.  The action sequences are a given, but subtle moments of ambience and score bleed into the rears not to mention the blasting of Beastie Boy’s “No Sleep Til Brooklyn.”  One of the moments that caught me off guard from the rear channels was when our boys escape in a truck and it comes jumping over a hill from behind you.  It really made me take notice of the power of the surround sound Gods in this track.  Ha ha.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: For an animated feature I got to give it kudos that the dialog levels were prominent, clean, loud, clear and intelligible throughout.  You don’t get much better than this.  Now tell me where else can you listen to a guinea pig speak with a lisp?

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Universal’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray home entertainment release of The Secret Life of Pets includes many different featurettes, sing-alongs and even three Mini-Movies plus a making of for them too.  In addition to all of this there’s also a redeemable code for the feature film in Digital HD so you can enjoy it anywhere you want in iTunes and UltraViolet.  So without further ado let’s dissect all the extra supplements found here on the included regular Blu-ray disc, which also features the movie in HD too.
  • How to Make an Animated Film (HD, 4:13) – In this extra we have a behind-the-scenes look at how to make an animated film from the various departments that make up Illumination.  They discuss everything from the budgeting of the animation costs to the storytelling of it all.
  • Anatomy of a Scene (HD, 4:46) – The filmmakers and animators take us through the multi-step process and thousands of decisions it takes to create a specific scene in the Secret Life of Pets.  There’s a lot of animation and computer talk in this one.
  • Mini-Movies (HD) – There are three Mini-Movies found here as listed below.
    • Norman TV (HD, 4:01) – This one is all about the guinea pig, Norman, and all the different scenery he takes in via his travels in the air vents with his television remote control.  He decides to help one couple and to step out of his role as a spectator and become an actor.
    • Weenie (HD, 4:05) – This one is about Timmy a sausage who has been called a “weenie.” I kid you not!
    • Mower Minions (HD, 4:27) – This one is about you guess it the minions and there’s a lawn mower in it too.  They put on quite the show for some elders cutting their lawn.  No I am not exaggerating.  This really happens in this mini-movie.
  • The Making of the Mini-Movies (HD, 7:23) – Here we have an interesting take on the making of above the Mini-Movies where the theme son each are explored through the eyes of the Illumination French team of artists who made them in France and Los Angeles.
  • All About The Pets (HD, 6:26) – In this extra, Kevin Hart and Eric Stonestreet, with the help of animal trainer Molly Mignon O’Neill, take us on an educational journey to learn more about your average and not-so average, household pets such as a cat, a sphinx, a little chick (closest relative they say to a tyrannosaurus rex), a hedgehog, a chinchilla (they have 60 to 80 hairs per follicle), a rose hair tarantula, a puppy, a red lizard, a white rabbit and an albino python.
  • Animals Can Talk: Meet The Actors (HD, 3:47) – The comedy superstars who give voice to the film’s menagerie of characters talk about their roles and the process of bringing them to life.  We get to see them here behind-the-scenes recording their dialogue for the film and they discuss their roles too.  
  • Hairstylist To The Dogs (HD, 3:41) – Inspired by “Hairspray Live!,” Eric Stonestreet, with the help of a professional dog groomer Jess Rona, takes us through the basic steps to help your dogs look as awesome as possible.
  • The Best Of Snowball (HD, 1:15) – Here’s a quick, rapid-fire, fun and oddly musical mash-up of all the best Snowball one-liners from the film.
  • Hot Dog Sing-Along (HD, 1:12) – Join Max and Duke as they perform for their dinner in the sausage factory.  This straightforward sing along is fun for the whole family to enjoy.  This was actually one of my favorite songs and scenes from the movie.  It’s hilarious.  This quick song is accompanied by the song lyrics too.
  • Sing Trailer (HD, 4:02) – This is the trailer for the animated koala bear infused film Sing.  It does feature Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” and a killer soundtrack, not to mention bunnies twerking.  I wanna see this!
  • “Lovely Day” Lyric Video (HD, 2:23) –  You guessed it!  It’s the animated music video to “Lovely Day” complete with lyrics that are accompanied with the animated stars of the film.
  • The Humans that Brought You Pets (HD, 8:43) – Producers Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy, directors Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney, and writer Brian Lynch discuss what went into creating The Secret Life of Pets compelling characters and non-stop action, not to mention the inspiration behind it all.  Each of the five mentioned names have their own chapters within this extra and there’s a Play All option to watch them all continuously.
  • GoPro: The Secret Life of Pets (HD, 2:04) –  Here we have real moments of humans doing dangerous stunts with GoPro cameras and the pets of the film recreating them humorously of course.
  • Fandango: Brian The Minion on Pets (HD) – There are three parts here.  Yea!  I’m not a fan of the Minions so I’ll let you experience these all for yourselves.  Long story short these are of the Minions sitting in a theater watching this film.  Fun, huh?

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This holiday season, the answer to the question “Ever wonder what your pets do when you’re not home?” is finally answered when The Secret Life of Pets comes to Digital HD November 22, 2016 and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and regular Blu-ray/DVD December 6th from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The humans behind the Despicable Me franchise and those pesky little, yellow Minions present America’s top-grossing original film of the year.  This animated comedy is a worldwide hit with over $834 million in global ticket sales.  The 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray packages feature nearly an hour of bonus content, including three mini-movies: the all-new Norman Television and Weenie PLUS Mower Minions and best of all…reference audio and video presentation on the new UHD format.  Parents and kids alike will relish in what they hear and see.  Pre-order this one now for the perfect holiday stocking stuffer.


DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified A/V gear found here.  Make sure to check out all out 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.


What Do Your Pets Do While You’re Away?

Find out  on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

The Secret Life of Pets

December 6th!




The Secret Life of Pets 4K UHD


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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