Getting a little tired of election coverage this year?  Day after day, hour after hour of “he said this” or “she did that.”  Sometimes it just all gets to be a little too much and you need a break.  So I’ve got a couple of movies here for you.

Now, don’t go thinking these are both going to be pure, mindless entertainment.  I mean, I’ll give you one of those.  But I’ve also been going back and watching some movies recently that center around how businesses and their upper management, in particular, relate to their customers.  Trust me, it’s more interesting than it sounds to see how the depiction of business in film has changed over time.  We’ve got one of those this month as well.

Look, I have got to sound a little “academic” from time to time.  We all have professors to impress.  But let’s start off light and work are way up, shall we?

The Secret Life Of Pets (2016) [PG]
The Secret Life Of Pets (2016) Poster

When I saw the trailer for this I thought, “Ooh, from the folks that made Despicable Me!”  I’m going to guess that, like me, you enjoyed those movies, and how could you not?  They were light and funny but had a warm heart at the center.  That’s what I thought I would get from The Secret Life Of Pets.

And, in some ways, I wasn’t disappointed.  The Secret Life Of Pets is a funny and enjoyable ride but it just isn’t as charming as Despicable Me.  I think some of that has to do with the acting choices.  The cast for Despicable Me is stronger.  But so is the script.  It just feels like they put less time and effort into The Secret Life of Pets.

That’s not to say that Pets isn’t entertaining.  It is.  There are some great sight gags and funny lines.  The plot moves along at a great pace and there is always something fun to look at.

It’s just, the heart is missing.  I didn’t care about the cats and dogs of The Secret Lives of Pets like you do Gru, the girls and the minions of Despicable Me.  But that doesn’t make it a bad movie, just one that doesn’t carry a great deal of emotional weight.

It may be a light piece of fluff but The Secret Life of Pets is a breezy bit of fun that will leave you smiling and happy.  And couldn’t we all use a little more of that these days?

6 paws out of 10

Margin Call (2011) [R]

Margin Call (2011) PosterAnd now I am going to ruin that light and breezy feeling.

I know, you are thinking “Collin, shouldn’t you have reviewed this years ago?”  Probably.  But consider this the first in a series of “financial” movies that we’re going to go through.

“Oh Collin, that sounds boring!  Why would I want to watch a movie about stocks and board meetings and money?”  Valid question.  But I think you’ll find that all of the movies we will cover over the next few posts are actually quite entertaining and if you learn a little along the way, is it really that bad?

So, Margin Call is a film set of a 24-hour period at the beginning of the 2008 financial crisis.  We follow Peter, played by Zachary Quinto, who has just learned that the investment firm that he works for is in a perilous position.  He brings the evidence to his superiors, who listen and then make the decision to order the company to start liquidating their holdings before the news spreads, thus betraying their customers.

“This sounds really complicated and confusing, Collin.”  Don’t worry.  The film does a wonderful job of using fiction to explain some of the issues and circumstances that caused so much trouble eight years ago.  To me, however, Margin Call is less about the financial acrobatics and more about the characters and their concerns.  If you enjoy people watching and wondering what other people must be thinking and feeling,  Margin Call is truly fascinating.  This is a movie about people you aren’t supposed to like, but I couldn’t stop watching them and wondering why they made the choices they made.

This one’s a “thinker,” I know.  But if you’re up for it, I think you’ll find Margin Call to be well worth your time.  Do the filmmakers have an agenda?  Sure.  But whether you agree or not, it still makes for a thought-provoking experience.  Here, check out the trailer and see if this is something you can give a good 100 minutes or so.

7.5 paws out of 10

As always, if you have a movie you think I should check out or you want to talk further about one of these reviews, drop me a line at or leave me a message on Facebook.