The major Hollywood studios came out in full force on Super Bowl Sunday, dropping big ads for upcoming blockbusters like Independence Day: Resurgence and TMNT: Out of The Shadows. The National Football League’s yearly championship spectacle provides a near-perfect syngeristic launching platform for all manner of mass-entertainment; having in recent years grown beyond its own sport to become one of the most important musical and live-entertainment venues of the year, via its mega-hyped half time shows.
Family-friendly movies got in on the act as well, and one of the most-prominent was Universal’s upcoming animated comedy from Despicable Me creators Illumination Entertainment, The Secret Life of Pets.
As with previous full trailers for the film, Pets’ Super Bowl spot opts to go light on plot in favor of a focus on sight-gags framed around its central premise: that the seemingly well-behaved household pets of busy modern New Yorkers carry on active, amusing social-lives while their owners are away at work – with teaser posters depicting a dog waiting in front of a front door asking audiences “Think this is what they do all day?” Indeed, Super Bowl viewers who caught the spot get a look at the titular pets head-banging to hard rock, partying in their owner’s bathroom and other off-kilter shenanigans.
But despite the gag-focused trailers, the film does in fact have a tale to tell – one much in the vein of the original Toy Story, in which a well-behaved loyal dog must contend with his owner having introduced a new dog – a rowdy party-animal rescued from a shelter – into the household, upsetting the well-scheduled lifestyle the original had previously enjoyed. Ultimately, they must put aside their differences and rally Manhattan’s other pets to the cause when a vengeful rabbit named Snowball assembles an army of similarly-aggrieved abandoned pets for a sinister scheme targeting the city’s pet owners and their furry friends. Notably, the film features the animated feature-film debuts of comedy icons Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet and Kevin Hart.
Talking animals and celebrity voices are often a winning combo at the box-office with family audiences (who, after all, often buy more tickets in total thanks to chaperone duties), though not always: Disney’s similarly New York-set Oliver & Company, which featured a prominent voice performance by Billy Joel, was regarded as a rare misfire for the studio in 1988. But most other features in the genre have been luckier. Plus, the upscale Manhattan setting and prominent casting of famous comedians (Bobby Moynihan, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Jenny Slate, Hannibal Buress and Albert Brooks also star) has the potential to draw adult audiences who may not otherwise be expected to seek out a family feature.
Illumination Entertainment has been on a roll since the Despicable Me franchise and its omnipresent Minions became pop-culture juggernauts, and the studio shows no signs of slowing down. Following The Secret Life of Pets, the studio is next scheduled to release Sing, a musical comedy said to involve anthropomoprhic animals vying for roles in a Broadway-style theater production – with an all-star cast including Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, John C. Reilly, Scarlett Johansson and more lending their vocals. Illumination also has Despicable Me 3 and a new animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas to follow thereafter.
The Secret Life of Pets opens in U.S. theaters on July 8th, 2016.
Source: Illumination Entertainment