written by Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch
directed by Chris Renaud
by Walter Chaw Brutally bad, from the exhausted hip-comic improvisational patter to the endless slapstick pratfalls that comprise the entirety of the film, Chris Renaud and co-director Yarrow Cheney's abominable The Secret Life of Pets excretes into theatres for the express purpose of distracting your young ones for 90 minutes in an air-conditioned setting. It's not remotely witty, never for a second clever, and with a typecast Kevin Hart voicing a one-trick racial pastiche of a bunny, it underscores the cultural divide between those who think Minions and The Lorax are unwatchable dreck and those who are wrong. It's machine-tooled to make money, which it will after the manner of other things that make money at the expense of your children, but it's worth considering that the reason for most of the terrible things in this world is our agreement that critical thinking is a burden, while anti-intellectualism is a roadmap to our survival as first a civilization, then as a species. In our society, saying that something is "for kids" means that it's better, safer...unless it's entertainment. The greatest trick the devil played is convincing an entire culture that it's better not to waste time wondering if what you put in your child's head is productive and smart. So long as there's no sex in it, game on. If The Secret Life of Pets (hereafter Pets) were a chair, it would be made of broken glass and rusty nails. But hey, never mind, why criticize? It's just for kids.