|One of the first lessons we learned in my first film criticism class was that animated films are rarely for children; they are simply too long and, quite frankly, they are usually too advanced. How many kids, for example, really know what their parents do at work all day? The kids hardly understand "going to work" any better than the animated pets in the film, so animated films are usually geared more towards adults, but it's easier to take the kids to those kinds of "adult films" rather than more violent or sexual themed films (the kids know and engage with certain parts of the film, but a two-hour narrative is just too complex for most kids to be able to completely take in, they just haven't developed sufficiently to be able to take in that much information). So, what makes an animated film about pets so grown-up? To begin with, identifying the animated pets behavior with behavior you have actually witnessed in your own life. For example, when Max and Duke are hungry and go "begging" for a handout, they put on their most pitiful faces; we have certainly all encountered the dog looking longingly at our hamburger or even corn flakes because, if we have it, they want it, too. This makes the film funny. We "meet the animators" in this moment because they have identified pet behavior they have seen in their own animals and presented it for us so that we can see it in our animals, too, so, we have "bonded" with the film makers through a shared experience of our pets' behaviors. Because we can see our own dogs sitting in front of the door waiting for us to return from work (as Max does in the image above) the animators have won our trust that they understand pets, so when we later see Max intentionally tearing up Katie's apartment to "frame Duke" so Katie won't want him anymore, we can go over the bridge of disbelief because the film makers have all ready constructed enough trust between them and ourselves that we are willing to believe Max would "frame" Duke even though we know that isn't possible in reality (this scene in the film might possibly be a reference to the Disney film The Ugly Dachshund). (N.B.: The text below is having a web problem, the format isn't being corrected properly and refuses to be edited; I apologize for the poor formatting, the html isn't cooperating).|
ON A VERY IMPORTANT POLITICAL NOTE, IF YOU THINK MY REVIEWS ARE POLITICAL, PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT and read this asinine interpretation that intentionally skews facts about the film to arrive at a liberal reading that in no way exists. For example, Dr. Johnson completely misses--intentionally--that the rabbit is named Snowball as a reference to George Orwell's anti-socialist novel Animal Farm; he also doesn't get the name of Gidget correct, instead calling her Gigi. He also intentionally fails to mention the character Frank, a black man who "flushed" Duke after Duke ran away and didn't come to retrieve him from the pound. If he can't even get the basic facts of the film correct, he has no right spreading information about it. Why would he offer such a slanderous reading? To keep white people from going to see a film that is anti-Obama and anti-socialist (not anti-black or anti-black-power, that is his own shallow and erroneous reading). The "basis" of Dr. Johnson's "interpretation" of the film comes from comedian Kevin Hart (who does the voice for Snowball) and Hannibal Buress (who does the voice for Buddy) being black. That's the reason Dr. Johnson is upset, Hart and Buress are black. If you will recall, blacks were upset at the "White Out Oscars" because THERE WEREN'T ANY BLACK PEOPLE, now Johnson is upset because there are black people in this cast (don't forget, he completely ignores Duke's owner Frank being black!). It doesn't matter what is or isn't done, they are determined to be upset, and the less realistic their complaints are, the more their fellow "thugs" are going to rally to protect them from reality and the consequences of what they are arguing.
|Technically, the first of the film isn't even The Secret Life of Pets, but Mower Minions, from the team who created both films. We can be confident that, far from being a time-suck to fill up the two-hours, the minions actually contribute to The Secret Life Of Pets because, at the end, Mel is dressed as a minion, reminding us of what we saw two hours earlier. So, what is the connection? Capitalism. It's quite simple: the minions see a blender they want, so what do they do? They don't cash in their welfare check, or hustle their food stamps, they go out and work for what they want. How revolutionary. While the senior citizens at Fuzzy Memories center get a good laugh at the minions, it brings to mind the elders in Independence Day when Julius promotes his book, How I Saved the World, and the seniors don't react to him, suggesting that they would be better off dead because they have ceased contributing to society because they aren't interested in Julius (please see A Controlled Dive: Independence Day for more). In Mower Minions, there is an even exchange that takes place: the minions get their $19.95 and the seniors get fabulous entertainment. On a different level, we the audience are like the seniors at Fuzzy Memories, because we, too, are paying for the entertainment we hope to see. Like trying to understand the senior who doesn't have his teeth in, we might not catch everything that is being said (like Snowball's comment about the raccoon not being the president) and like the woman without her hearing aide, we might not hear everything the film is saying, but at this blog, searching for those clues and details is what we do best, and we'll find as many as we can: case in point, how many people even picked up that the seniors in the scene were agents of "artistic noise and silence?" When the minions have their smoothie machine and have become bloated on the smoothies they have enjoyed, a new machine has come out for $142! They roll out to go earn money to buy that one; why? Because capitalism is a self-perpetuating system. If we had all been happy with VCRs, we wouldn't have continued working; we would watch one or two movies over and over and over and over,... but then, the DVD player came out, and so we worked for that, because it was better! We can mock ourselves at this point but trust me, I don't want to go back to watching VHS tapes, I am happy living in a society with a free and evolving market that produces top-notch electronics. The minions are compelled to go out and work for what they want, so the free market--the new smoothie machine that "does all the work for you"--compels them to contribute to society so they can have what they want. This is an act of free will: no one is forcing the minions to go out and work for the new smoothie machine, this is them making the decision for themselves.|
Project X and the Democratic "Party" for more). But there is one character, specifically, who wears a "mask" but we never even see that character; who is it?
|Gidget. Her name combines "girl" and "midget" because of her stature and invokes the novels, films and TV series of Gidget, which starred both Sally Fields and Sandra Dee (I could spend time elaborating on the capitalist connections here, but I won't). She is as tiny as tiny can be; she looks as feminine as feminine can be, but she is, undoubtedly, the heroine of this tale, because she does what feminists basically bet against her doing: she leads an army to save Max. Gidget, in other words, doesn't have to be politically empowered by a group of feminist thugs because she has all the "girl power" she needs all ready within her, even if she hasn't found it until she needs it (more on this below with Tiberius). Another slam against feminism which Gidget provides us is her motivation: she doesn't become this incredibly empowered leader simply to experience power and leadership: she does it for love (of Max). That is perhaps as anti-feminist as you can get, and I am 100% in favor of it! Why is Gidget watching the Spanish soap opera when she learns that Max has disappeared? Because love transcends language, it applies to every people and every culture. Watching soap operas also goes against feminism and what feminists believe women should be doing with their days (out competing with men for promotions and higher pay raises rather than being at home watching TV).|
Not only does Ms. Swift's own dedication and hard work to become a singer/songwriter in her (very) early life, and contribute to the introduction, but also the lyrics of the song Welcome To New York. Why is this important? Because everything in the film is masked, and we're trying to decide who the raccoon that thinks he is president, but isn't, is in reality. To answer the question, we can call on Poe.
|We could say that Gidget is really dumb for trusting Tiberius when it's obvious he wants to make a meal out of her, but the exact opposite happens: Gidget has a brilliant power-move when she offers an exchange with Tiberius: if he will help her find Max, Gidget will be his best friend. Tiberius tells Gidget that he was "born with killer instincts. I'm a selfish predator," but when he imagines how much fun he and Gidget could have if she's his best friend, then his stronger instinct for companionship over-rides his innate killer instincts (the same happens with Tiberius and the hamster). In other words, Tiberius needs companionship more than he needs food. It's important to establish that Tiberius is still a predator, a killer, he's not becoming a vegetarian; rather, Tiberius--like Katie in adopting Max and later Duke--makes a willing exchange, a sacrifice for some greater good he will gain from the exchange. This is a cornerstone of the film because it reflects the social contract in which individuals agree to sacrifice some freedom in exchange for the protection of other freedoms. For example, I sacrifice the innate wrath I get in reading liberals and my natural instinct to kill them because I prefer living in a society where I can walk around in freedom and the consequences are, to me, greater in committing murder of a liberal than the benefit; therefore, I sacrifice (what in nature would be a "right" or instinct) and respect the law that forbids murder. The problem is, liberals themselves refuse to adhere to the social contract. For example, homosexuality has been outlawed because the majority of heterosexuals didn't want to be exposed to the perversion that homosexuality is; homosexuals, however, demand "equal rights" and refuse to make sacrifices in exchange for living in society, demanding that every one else suffer so they can do whatever they want to do; the same applies with transgender bathroom "regulations," there is a clear majority that doesn't want these regulations (which are being illegally forced, not having gone through the proper channels of Congress first) and yet liberals insist on oppressing the majority for the sake of less than 1% o.f the population Liberals, then, have greatly damaged the social exchange, which we see in Snowball and his army. On a slightly different note, when Gidget goes to the top of the apartment building to look for Max, Gidget ascends, she accesses within herself a higher level of consciousness (this is different from Max and Duke trying to tap into their un-evolved wolf natures that they never really had, this is Gidget utilizing skills she has, but never had reason to utilized before). Gidget becomes overwhelmed looking at the vast skyline, and it's then that she hears the voice in the creepy old, dark shed; that shed symbolizes an inner-part of Gidget she's never needed to open before, her leadership skills. Dogs obviously don't have any bird skills--so Gidget can't her "inner hawk" to help her find Max--but Tiberius symbolizes Gidget's courage, organizing and fighting abilities, hence, the name after the Roman emperor and legendary general. So, the situation of Max disappearing brings out the very best in Gidget, but what about Max? Snowball isn't Max's worst side, even though Max descends into the sewers with Snowball, Snowball isn't a symbol of what is all ready in Max, but Snowball is a consequence of what is inside Max if Max continues allowing his "lower appetites and instincts" to guide him rather than his more noble instincts, in other words, because Max is being selfish in not wanting to adopt Duke, a figure like Snowball appears to fight on behalf of all "flushed pets," and that is Snowball. The perfect illustration of this is when Duke has gotten caught again by the pound (and tells Max to save himself) and Max has to walk across the cracked windshield of the vehicle to get to Duke; the windshield symbolizes "reflection" of the vehicle, and the "vehicle" of the film is the conflict between Max and Duke because Max didn't want another dog; so when we see Max walking across the cracked windshield, we are seeing the internal process Max endures of realizing that they are in that position because of how Max treated Duke. Snowball having to jump in and provide Max with the keys symbolizes that Max's conversion is now complete because he doesn't want to save Duke out of guilt, or fear of consequences from other flushed pets (an army uprising) rather because he genuinely cares for Duke and wants Duke to be a part of his life, and this is why the scene takes place in water. Even though animals don't have souls and cannot receive the redeeming Grace of Baptism, water symbolizes Grace, repentance and conversion, so both Max and Duke realize their lives will be better with the other, hence, Duke and Max are both saved in that scene.|
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