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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kids can learn about treating others kindly, even if those others come from different walks of life or appear flawed in some way. Urban areas must coexist with nature. Question could arise about whether robots/artificial intelligence have potential to outsmart and/or turn against humans.
General lessons about accepting human flaws, respecting nature, treating others with dignity, consideration, loyalty. Attempts to drive home bigger messages come late in the film and lack impact.
Positive Role Models
Animals learn to respect one another's differences, show courage in face of danger. Roger, who's a loner, becomes attached to his new robot pet, Bob, who shows him unfailing loyalty. Roger's owner was taken prisoner by a robot he created that turned evil. Robot forces are easily manipulated. European accents are exaggerated, and characters' nationalities could lend themselves to stereotypes.
Violence & Scariness
Frequent animated action violence, including chases, fights, predatory animals, robot heads detaching, car and train crashes, throwing knives, a machine that crushes scrap metal (including, almost, a robot with human feelings and some pets), a giant robotic spider that crushes small animals with its claws, robot arms that can vacuum animals up or ensnare them with nets, a house that crumbles. The pets all survive unharmed, including one who appeared to have been crushed. Evil mastermind robot is destroyed at the end in a moment that feels a bit vengeful.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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"Devil." "Hell." "Poo." "Fart." Taunts including "loser," "stupid," "freak," "scum," "wimp," "bootlicker," "buffoon," and similar.
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Products & Purchases
The pets are impressed with a shopping mall where they take refuge. One animal is obsessed with body treatments apparently offered at the posh Pamper Pets spa, including lip enhancements, eyelash extensions, nose jobs, waxing, massage, and more.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
At a party, robots serve something from a cocktail shaker.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pets United is an animated movie about animals who find themselves up against robot police. Expect nonstop animated action, including chases, fights, predatory animals and robots, car/train crashes, flying knives, a menacing machine that crushes scrap metal (including, almost, a robot with human feelings and some pets), and the ultimate -- and somewhat vengeful -- destruction of an evil mastermind robot. Happily (possible spoiler alert?), the pets survive unharmed, including one who appeared to have been crushed at the start of the film, thanks to their courage and loyalty. The pets all have their own backstories and quirks, as well as a variety of European accents that could be seen as stereotypical (menacing zoo animals are Slavic, a braggy poodle is Italian, a spry fox is Irish, a snooty feline is British, etc). One animal is obsessed with body treatments like lip enhancements, eyelash extensions, nose jobs, waxing, massage, and more. Language is mostly taunts and insults ("loser," "stupid," "freak," "scum," "wimp," "bootlicker," "buffoon," etc.), and there are references to the "devil," "hell," "poo," and "fart." The movie tries to convey messages about respecting nature and the dangers of artificial intelligence, but it buries them too late in the film for them to have much impact on younger viewers. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Pets United feels entirely familiar and yet strangely foreign at the same time; something is just a little off. A motley crew of animals sets out to save the day and avoid capture by stray-snatchers, much like in The Secret Life of Pets. A wise, bearded animal who looks a lot like Kung Fu Panda's Master Shifu offers guidance. A snooty and pampered female pet falls for a big-hearted scamp of a stray, like in The Lady and the Tramp. And so on. You'd think you could guess what was going to happen based on the references, but Pets United is not so predictable. In a children's film, that's not always a good thing.
The ending tosses out several competing morals related to respecting nature and fearing robots, but it's too little, too late after an hour and a half of action for characters that we mostly don't care much about. The European clichés could be off-putting, an unexpected rap song from zoo animals seems out of place, and one animal's obsession with beauty enhancements feels inappropriate for younger viewers. The ending also has a moment of vengeance that seems unsuitable. On the plus side, the animation is attractive, some of the characters have endearing foibles, and there are a few heartening or fun moments.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.