For their fifth fully-animated feature-film collaboration, Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures present The Secret Life of Pets, a comedy that follows the lives of our beloved furry friends when we’re not home. The plot centers on Max, a pampered terrier whose routine is soon disrupted when Duke, a stray mutt whom Max instantly dislikes, joins the family as his brother. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t take long for the dubious duo to land in trouble, with their rivalry sending them adrift in New York City. Now the mismatched mutts must join forces to escape the clutches of both Animal Control and an underground army of abandoned pets led by an adorable, yet slightly unhinged, bunny named Snowball.
The script for The Secret Life of Pets was written by Brian Lynch (Minions) and Despicable Me writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio. Yarrow Cheney makes his directorial debut after serving as a production designer on Despicable Me, alongside co-director Chris Renaud (Despicable Me 1 & 2, Minions), who recently teamed up with producer Chris Meledandi (Despicable Me 1 & 2, Minions) to discuss the film’s premise in an all-new featurette.
Released by Illumination Entertainment (via Comic Book), the ‘Look Inside’ featurette explores the fascination that we have with the inner lives of our pets, with clips revealing some of the activities that the adventurous animals get up to in their owners absence – including throwing parties for each other and listening to rock and roll music. Additionally, the short clip showcases the talents of the voice cast, who share some further commentary on their respective characters. For instance, Lake Bell defines her feline counterpart, Chloe, as a representation of what we imagine most cats are thinking, while Kevin Hart describes Snowball as a “lean, mean, carrot-chewing machine”, who embodies a world of subterranean pets.
The Secret Life of Pets features an all-star comedy voice cast, including Louis C.K. as Max, Eric Stonestreet as Duke, and Kevin Hart as Snowball – which marks an animated feature film debut for all three actors. Joining them are Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Lake Bell (Million Dollar Arm), Dana Carvey (Wayne’s World), Jenny Slate (Zootopia), Albert Brooks (Finding Nemo), Bobby Moynihan (Monsters University) Hanibal Buress (Spider-Man: Homecoming), and Steve Coogan (Tropic Thunder).
Over the years, talking animated animals and comedy superstar voices have proven to be a winning formula at the box-office with family audiences, but there have been some misfires too. Disney’s similarly New York-set, animal-buddy, comedy-animation Oliver & Company, which featured a prominent voice performance by Billy Joel, was met with mixed reviews upon release in 1988. However, other features in the same genre have experienced greater success; most recently, Zootopia hopped its way to over $1 billion at the global box office.
Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures are likely hoping to scratch and claw their way to the top with The Secret Life of Pets, which comes directly after last year’s Despicable Me prequel/spin-off, Minions – the first non-Disney animated film to surpass the $1 billion worldwide box office. But, without a yellow, cylindrical creature in sight, will the upcoming release prove to be a hit? Early reviews suggest so, with critics being overwhelmingly positive about the madcap caper (on the whole).
The Secret Life of Pets opens in U.S. theaters on July 8th, 2016.