Critics Consensus

The Secret Life of Pets Is Funny and Colorful

Plus, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is uneven, and The Night Of is Certified Fresh.

by and | July 7, 2016 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got adventurous animals (The Secret Life of Pets, featuring voice performances by Louis C.K. and Kevin Hart) and uninhibited nuptial attendees (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, starring Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick). What do the critics have to say?


The Secret Life of Pets (2016) 72%

When you take your kids to the movies this weekend, do you want them to have their minds blown, or are you just looking for an hour and a half or so of agreeably diverting entertainment? Your answer to that question may have a major impact on how much you enjoy The Secret Life of Pets. Starring Louis C.K. as a happily domesticated terrier and Modern Family‘s Eric Stonestreet as the oafish rescue dog who threatens to disturb his idyllic existence, this Illumination production uses its sturdy talking-animals premise as a springboard into some amusing ideas about what sorts of mischief our pets might get up to while they’re home alone. Critics say that although many of the story’s intriguing possibilities are left by the wayside in favor of a fairly standard caper, Pets is rarely short of entertaining — and substantially enlivened by an all-star voice cast that also includes Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Albert Brooks, and Dana Carvey.


Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016) 38%

A wedding, a pair of siblings, and a couple of scammers out for a good time. Sound familiar? Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates obviously has a few things in common with Wedding Crashers, but it’s actually loosely based on a real-life story about a couple of goober man-children (Zac Efron and Adam Devine) whose history of drunken revelry threatens to get them uninvited from their sister’s nuptials — unless they agree to bring dates to (theoretically) keep them in line. As luck would have it, the seemingly staid ladies they end up bringing (Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick) are secretly just as wild as the fellas; unfortunately, despite the talented cast and its equal-opportunity distaff twist, critics say the results are underwhelming. Although Mike and Dave isn’t without laughs, reviews point to a frustratingly uneven affair that proposes gut-busting raunch but never quite commits.


What’s New on TV

The Night Of: Miniseries (2016) 94%

The Night Of is a richly crafted, exquisitely performed mystery that will keep viewers enthralled and leave them devastated.


Dead of Summer: Season 1 (2016) 63%

Dead of Summer sets a spooky stage for a silly period creepfest, but its lack of actual scares adds up to an altogether underwhelming experience.


Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Little Sister (2015) , a drama about estranged siblings connecting in the wake of their father’s death, is Certified Fresh at 92 percent.
  • Under the Sun (2015) , a guerilla-style documentary about a North Korean family preparing for Kim Jong-Il’s birthday, is at 90 percent.
  • Zero Days (2016)Alex Gibney‘s documentary about the U.S. and Israel unwisely opening a can of malware worms in its cyberwarfare efforts against Iran, is at 88 percent.
  • Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You (2016) , a portrait of the 1970s sitcom titan and his lasting social impact beyond the small screen, is at 87 percent.
  • Sultan (2016) , starring Salman Khan in an underdog sports drama about a wrestler with dreams of Olympic glory, is at 80 percent.
  • Captain Fantastic (2016) , starring Viggo Mortensen as a single father of six navigating civilization after raising his family deep in the woods, is at 76 percent.
  • Men Go to Battle (2015) , an intimate period piece of the Civil War’s impact on two rural brothers, is at 73 percent.
  • The Debt (2015) , starring Stephen Dorff and David Strathairn in a drama about three sides of a land deal in Peru, is at 60 percent.
  • Fathers and Daughters (2015) , a sprawling family melodrama starring Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried, is at 24 percent.
  • Cell (2016) , starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson in an adaptation of the Stephen King book about people turning into crazed killers via phone signal, is at zero percent.

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