From Disney to Pixar to Universal Pictures, what animation fanatic does not love tons of squishy, lovable, little, animated critters full of fur that talk? Many moviegoers say yes they do, as The Secret Life of Pets’ opening day draws near. There are still other animation fans who say they are still waiting for a sequel to a film they care more about. Sequels, such as The Invincibles 2, a movie long since waited for, have left fans extremely disgruntled since there have been no serious talks about its making. However, the makers of the fan-favorite, Despicable Me, are getting cute and cuddly with yet another animation, only this time about talking pets. Yet critics have noticed that the number of adults who watch these films, has increasingly grown over the last decade. With Universal Pictures film, The Secret Life of Pets, getting ready to open in theaters across America in early July, some fans want to know, if animated movies are no longer just for kids.
With the onslaught of Pixar and Dreamworks films, 3D graphics, and the like, many feel animation (such as The Secret Life of Pets) has taken a turn that has caused many parents to push the pause button on family movie nights. They see the cartoons, they hear the child-like voicings of the characters, however, parents say what they are not seeing or hearing, are jokes and references they deem fit for their children. The question of all questions seems to be (outside of an animated Barney) if cartoons were ever really meant to attract a child audience. Parents say that it could possibly be, that the intended ploy was to rope their parents in instead. It may seem that The Secret Life of Pets is being given way too much shade before it has a chance to prove itself. Unfortunately, its look and theme seem to follow a formula that many parents say they are done with.
The new animated feature, The Secret Life of Pets, takes a hypothetical and fantastical view on the life one’s pet must live when they are left at home by themselves. When the business man walks out the door, what his pet chihuahua really gets into may be interesting to watch. When the soccer mom leaves to pick up her kids from practice, what her feline friend is possibly doing may be great pet humor. When asking what pets do while their owners are away, are all great questions with, according to moviegoers, one obvious answer: People do not know! The unknown spectrum, creatively, is the perfect place for an animator to create characters, give them voices and life, while creating an animated film in which things that are not human, actually have lives and opinions. However, are these lives and opinions based on a knowledgeable reference that children would understand? Some believe that films such as The Secret Life of Pets, are animated movies that are simply no longer just for kids.
Toy Story was the leading computer-animation of its time, being the first 3D-like film to capture audiences, and putting Pixar on the map in 1995. A story of a young boy’s favorite toys fighting to keep their value as a new and more impressive toy joins the bunch. Yet by the time the trilogy released its final installment in 2010, fans of the original film were quite shocked at the morbid level of adult reference the film seemed to have gained. Parents stated that the Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear character, resembled too much of a street pimp for their liking. The subliminal sexual orientation jokes between Ken and Barbie gave not only parents, but adults period, major pause as they wondered how on earth is this meant for a child to understand.
Of course the largest shock was the movie’s climactic scene that caused parents to hold their hearts in terror, as the toys faced a very real and melancholy moment that dealt, too realistically for some, with the issue of life and death. Eva Gutierrez, a mother of two young girls and a licensed foster care parent, took to Facebook and said, “Many of them [animated films] say and do things that are truly not meant for children. Sexual and demonic undertones…how is that for children?”
The official The Secret Life of Pets two-minute and 40-second trailer starts with a white fluffy dog named Gidget watching her owner leave the house. Gidget then asks her neighbor Max, (another dog) what his plans are for the day. Max responds enthusiastically with, “Yes, big, big stuff today Gidget. I got big plans, I’m going to sit here and I’m going to wait for Katie to come back.”
The next sequence of images makes the trailer all the more enthralling to watch, as the rest of the preview is sure to do two things: Make the watcher laugh and then want to see the film. From a food obsessing, overweight cat, to an eager Dachshund needing his daily massage with an electric mixer’s wand, The Secret Life of Pets characters, seemingly, have a day full of things to get into. Even the canary who waits for his owner to leave so that he can turn on the fan and television, creating his own virtual-type flight simulation, looks to have his day planned out perfectly.
Although The Secret Life of Pets trailer does not outright show or allude to anything that may be beyond a child’s understanding, the very look of the film is still too familiar. Animation watchers have become so familiar with the style, post Toy Story, that such films lead many to believe it is going to follow the same adult-geared formula. The animation is sure to dazzle kids, while distracting from references that will cause parents to laugh while still questioning why such an adult idea was put in a movie meant for their little ones.
Maybe The Secret Life of Pets is an animated movie that does not follow the formula which causes parents to believe films of its nature are no longer just for kids. The Secret Life of Pets could very well be a fun family feature that is fit for the demographic of people who still need bedtimes, and cannot feed themselves or touch the stove. Although some fans hold strong to the belief that animation was never meant for children, others say that it makes perfect sense to put into these films a few references for adults (specifically parents) to understand. After all, they are the ones (according to Facebook parents) who have to take time out of their day to sit for two hours and watch a kids movie, when they would much rather be watching things get blown up or, at very least, back at home taking a nap, away from their tiresome, energetic offspring. Why not put something in the film that they too can enjoy for their sacrifice of parental sleep? The Secret Life of Pets is set to be released July 8.
Opinion by Danyol Jaye
YouTube- The Secret Life Of Pets – Official Teaser Trailer (HD) – Illumination
News Kids Center- Best Animated Movies for Kids
The Atlantic- Why Are All the Cartoon Mothers Dead?
Feature Photo Courtesy of Brett Kiger- Brett Kiger’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License
Inline Photo Courtesy of Rick Cameron- Rick Cameron’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License