Netflix’s batting average with animation takes a blow with “Pets United,” a competently-animated “Euro-Sino” production, a “Robots” and “Pets” mashup with no delights and zero laughs to its credit.
Roger, a stray dog (voiced by Patrick Roche) spends his days lounging about Robo City and his nights raiding fridges and supermarkets. He’s a wanted dog.
But not by any of the people there. The sheriff-bot chases him here and there, to no avail.
And no laughs, either.
Roger stumbles into a “pet” robot, clingy-annoying Bob who decides they’re “best friends for life.” I wholly support Felix Auer’s decision to give this annoy-o-bot James Corden’s accent.
Roger has life worked out, until that day when the evil bot-builder mayor (Eddie Marsan) goes mad for his “perfect world, a world without error, a world without FAILURE.”
Yup. The humans have to leave. Many forget their pets and leave them at the Pampered Pet spa, which is the second place Roger runs into Siamese cat Belle (Natalie Dormer).
The pets gathered there — pigs and hamsters and a red panda and kitties and Ronaldo the French poodle with an Italian accent — have to team up, get past the untended zoo animals and Save Our City.
“RRrrrrrrrronaldo fears neither death not the DEVIL.”
The digital design here is impressive, a candy-colored cartoon of a futuristic city with drones, bots, hover cars and maglev trains.
The animated motion of the critters is…adequate. It says a lot that the robots are far more convincing creations, with fluid motion and Wall-E/BB-8 design touches.
There are instantly forgettable musical moments. “We are the beasts…whoever fights us ees dead meat!”
None of the voices or one-liners break out, none of the sight gags land, even the pig and a pug on a skateboard.
“Pets United” could struggle a bit even to keep a toddler distracted for 92 minutes.
MPAA Rating: TV-Y7
Cast: The voices of Natalie Dormer, Patrick Roche, Naomi McDonald, Felix Auer and Eddie Marsan.
Credits: Written and directed by Reinhold Kloos. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:32