“Toy Story” showed us what toys did when their owners weren’t around. Ditto for Legos in “The Lego Movie.” The conceit should work for pets, too, and, by golly it does in “The Secret Life of Pets.” The folks who gave us “The Minions” provide a goofy, likable animated family flick about the vibrant world of anthropomorphic critters that emerges when humans leave for work. Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet and Kevin Hart provide voices for the main characters. This scruffy comedy is familiar and predictable, but is also fast paced and clever. It may not be best in show, but “The Secret Life of Pets” is far from being a movie dog.
“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” is the latest in the ever-increasing line of raunchy stoner comedies that try to justify their crudity by laying on the sappy sentiment. Zac Efron and Adam DeVine are chronically irresponsible brothers whose parents demand that they bring respectable dates to their sister’s Hawaiian wedding. Two party animals, played by Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick, play it straight to con the boys into a free trip. The vulgar material gleefully pushes the envelope as the filmmakers actively try to up the ante on crassness. Thanks to a game, talented cast and an engagingly wacky sensibility, this one almost works. Almost. What Mike and Dave really need is at least some semblance of taste.
Also opening this week, “Tickled” is a documentary that started out as a lighthearted look at an online fetish-tickling site and morphed into an investigative thriller as the filmmakers uncover a dark, threatening cyber underground. “Gurukulam” is a documentary about the day-to-day activities at an ashram in southern India. “Carnage Park” is a brutal and violent bank robbery movie that’s throwback to the days of grindhouse drive-in fodder.