Hollywood’s latest worldwide offering, which opens in the Philippines today, is the animated comedy The Secret Life of Pets. A No.1 box-office hit in the US, the same creative minds at Illumination Entertainment, which produced the blockbuster franchise of Despicable Me and its Minions, is behind this clever cartoon.
According to Chris Meledandri, founder and CEO of Illumination, “The inspiration behind Pets was all of the pets that my family and I have owned since I was a little kid. We grew up with a cat and dogs and a bird, and what I realized as I became a parent was that we all invested these pets with rich emotional lives. Whenever we’d come home we would be thinking about the joy in their faces in seeing us and thinking about them doing things that were a little bit naughty. We realized we were asking exactly what they had done while we were out.”
He continues, “It struck me that I wasn’t alone in wondering about what the inner lives of our pets were. The minute I started to look at my own pets that way, I realized that everybody looks at their pets through that lens. Whether or not it’s a real emotional life or a projected one…it doesn’t matter. We’re fascinated with their inner lives and highly curious about what they’re doing and thinking when we’re not around.”
Working with the writing team of Despicable Me’s Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, Meledandri first asked them to develop this idea into a screenplay.
Daurio explains how it all began: “The first thing that Chris pitched to us was the image of a dog watching his owner leave the house. As soon as the owner leaves, the dog dumps his food in the trash and opens the fridge to find something better to eat. That was the initial image that was planted in our head, and it stayed with us throughout this entire process.”
As they pondered upon the setting, the duo was drawn to a New York apartment building. “Early on, we decided we wanted this story to take place in an apartment building,” Paul says. “That gave us access to a lot of pets and the idea that when the owners are away, they party. They gossip and drink out of the toilet; things they would never do if their owners were watching.”
Comedy superstars Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet and Kevin Hart make their animated feature-film debuts as Max, Duke and Snowball in The Secret Life of Pets, which co-stars Jenny Slate as Gidget, Ellie Kemper as Katie, Lake Bell as Chloe, Dana Carvey as Pops, Hannibal Buress as Buddy, Bobby Moynihan as Mel, Steve Coogan as Ozone and Albert Brooks as Tiberius.