Good news, pet lovers. Following the success of The Secret Life of Pets, it has been announced that there is to be a sequel! Illumination Pictures and Universal have announced that The Secret Life of Pets 2 is set to be released on July 13, 2018. The first installment was greatly received by critics and audiences alike, grossing close to $400 million in the box office worldwide. The movie gave us a comical, slapstick and satirical look into what our beloved pets might be up to the minute they are left to their own devices. Haven't seen it yet? Watch the video below for an insight into just what these furry critters get up to:
Why Can't We Get Enough Of Animated Animals?
In recent years, there has been a surge in anthropomorphic movies being released and their popularity continues to grow. It seems audiences just can't get enough of these animated, talking animals, and it's not just children flocking to see them. Adults too are engaging with the new and improved cartoon animal movies. Anthropomorphic films are not a new thing though, due to the fact animation has no limitation it allows movie creators to forge their own animal universes and breathe life and human qualities into the characters, if it can be drawn either by hand or computer it can be done.
The most recent releases of this sub-genre have tapped into the modern age and the struggles we as people face daily. We see the pets using social media, struggling with dating and questioning their independence. The comedy is slick enough to keep the grown ups entertained and yet the brightness and silliness keeps children glued to the screens. Computer graphics have continued to improve and evolve, meaning you're able to see every hair move, every drop of water dissipate, and really engage with all of the emotions within the script. The visual quality we are being presented with surpasses that of previous generations due to enhancements in technology. These films however would not exist were it not due to their classic and much loved predecessors.
We look now at the evolution of the anthropomorphic animation over past 7 decades within Walt Disney Studios:
1. Bambi (1942), Disney: The original anthropomorphic weepy. Audiences today are drawn into this animal world
Bambi remains one of the saddest films for many people across many generations. The fully hand drawn classic proved particularly challenging for animators. They had drawn deer and other woodland creatures before for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves but these animals acted only as background and extras within that feature. Disney himself wanted more realistic looking animals in order to evoke the necessary emotions needed to carry the story. Animators spent many weeks observing and drawing wild animals. Their hard work added to the authenticity of the movie, which meant when the man stopped drawing the mother deer you really did care. The anthropomorphic qualities meant you rooted for Bambi, laughed along with Thumper and cried along with the rest of the audience when Bambi's mother met her fate. Bambi led the way for others wishing to explore the possibility of anthropomorphic story telling.
2. Lady and the Tramp (1955), Disney: The first musical animal animation
A classic love story between a unlikely pair of dogs formed the basis for this well loved family favorite. Developments within cinema meant Lady and the Tramp was the first Disney feature to be filmed in Cinemascope Widescreen, which created further problems for animators with this new expansion of space. Lady and the Tramp gave us not only talking dogs but singing ones too, the anthropomorphic musical was born. Peggy Lee lent her soulful voice to the sassy Peg singing the famous song "He's a Tramp." Audiences were captivated by the catchy songs and the lovable dogs who sang them.
Fun Fact: The scene in which Jim Dear gives Darling her Christmas present is inspired by Walt Disney giving his wife Lillian a puppy for Christmas hidden in a hat box.
3. Robin Hood (1973), Disney: Upright animals wearing clothes
Carrying on with the demand for musical animal animation, Disney gave us Robin Hood. The story is already the stuff of legend and told hundreds of ways over the years, what was needed was a new spin; enter Disney with its all animal cast of Robin Hood. The original characters are replaced with all singing, all dancing, people clothes wearing animals. The movie is anthropomorphic in every sense of the word and the audiences longed for more. It appealed very much to the young male population who often weren't interested in the Princess movies. There's action, archery, a damsel in distress and the animals add a humorous yet child like innocence to the whole piece.
4. The Lion King (1994), Disney: Oscar winning animals
The Lion King animators never expected such a colossal reception for the film, instead Pocahontas was intended to be the shining star. Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 22 years, you know of course that The Lion King is revered as the greatest Disney film ever. This time, anthropomorphic tropes allow for the re-telling of Shakespeare's most famous work: Hamlet. It was the combination of Tim Rice and Elton John's award-winning soundtrack and exquisite animation done by over 600 animators working with real and very living wild lions for inspiration. It also included the first on-screen death of a good Disney character since Bambi. All of these elements have made The Lion King the wondrous epic it is today. The studios returned the animals to their animal state, in comparisons to the very human and upright animals in Robin Hood; this meant there was no distraction from any comedic silliness and it allowed the tragedy of the story to be really felt. I have no qualms is saying that I still cry to this day watching it and the movie even saved me during my Shakespeare exams.
5. Finding Nemo (2003), Disney's Pixar: CGI comes into its own
For a long while Pixar took the spotlight for the must-see family new releases. Finding Nemo took us under the sea in a way The Little Mermaid didn't achieve. The computer technology in place allowed for more detail in the background and characters, adding to the depth (no pun intended) to Nemo's world. Finding Nemo gave us wisecracking, quotable characters such as Dory (whose own spin-off movie, Finding Dory, splashed onto the screen to rave reviews in June). The film moved anthropomorphic films into the 21st century. Not only were the animals emoting human feelings, but they were modern, slick and relatable. How many of us have purposely disobeyed a parent because of an argument or been irritated by the overly naive person we find ourselves in a situation with? They might be talking fish but they talk just like we do.
Apologies if this is now stuck in your head.
6. Zootopia (2016), Disney: A combination of all evolutions
Likable characters, check. Fast paced script, check. Wonderful animation, check. This movie checks all boxes required to turn a new release into a classic. It has Easter Eggs galore, memorable quotes, and a heartwarming message; plus, the casting is pretty fantastic with Jason Bateman as a street-wise fox. Zootopia utilizes all the latest technology that was tried and painstakingly tested in Finding Nemo and Monster's Inc. to give a true textual and detailed appearance to the final product. Advancements in the tools the animators have at hand take movies that are typically produced for the enjoyment of children and move them up to the next level, becoming films everyone can enjoy and real treats for those who study film from an analytical point of view.
Zootopia was possible due to the evolution of the animal based films, an amalgamation of detailed animation, well written scripts, the use of music and the combination of both human and animal qualities that make it such a good watch. Oh, did I mention it's grossed over $1 billion at the box office?
Obviously, there are many other greats out there, and animation studios are constantly coming up with new ideas, but it's the early films such as Bambi, Dumbo and Robin Hood that led the way. Modern day audiences just can't seem to get enough of the animal adventures. The box office figures don't lie, we are going wild for these slick talking, visually stunning animals. Illumination Pictures has definitely raised the bar once more with their original Pets film, and we shall have to wait and see if The Secret Life of Pets 2 is just as good as the original.
Which anthropomorphic movie are you still raving about?