Illumination’s tenth animated feature, The Secret Life of Pets 2, is the highly anticipated sequel to the 2016 comedic blockbuster that had the biggest opening weekend ever for an original film, animated or otherwise.
Packed with Illumination’s signature irreverence and subversive humor, this new chapter explores the emotional lives of our pets, the deep bond between them and the families that love them, and answers the question that has long intrigued every pet owner: What are your pets really doing when you’re not at home?
Almost immediately following the success of The Secret Life of Pets, which broke box-office records and earned more than $875 million worldwide, Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri, his producing partner Janet Healy, returning screenwriter Brian Lynch and returning director Chris Renaud began to explore ideas for the next chapter in the lives of the characters they had created.
The question facing them now was how to best evolve and expand the world of Pets in a way that felt fresh, inventive, exciting and authentic. “When you start to craft a sequel, the goal is to tell a story that brings the audience back together with the characters that they love but then have discovery within that film for new story lines, new character development and new characters,” Meledandri says. “Audiences, when they come to this film, can’t wait to see these characters that they love again, and they can’t wait to see what these characters are up to when no one’s around. That core premise has such strength, and we embraced that, but we also wanted to create a story that would become a step forward in the lives of these characters and one that would be compelling to all audiences, even those who hadn’t seen the first movie.”
Indelible, relatable and sweetly flawed characters form the foundation of all of Illumination’s storytelling, and The Secret Life of Pets 2 is no exception. Together, Meledandri and his top creative team zeroed in on exploring the secret emotional lives of our pets, our unconditional love for them and they for us. “One of the really charming elements of Pets 2 is this relationship that we have with our pets that actually goes two ways,” Meledandri says. “Not only are we taking care of our pets, but our pets are actually taking care of us as well.” Sometimes a little too well. One of the major themes of the film is the idea of helicopter parenting and the impact that has on both the parent and the child being parented.
“Brian Lynch, Chris Meledandri and I were kicking around ideas surrounding the dynamic between pets and kids,” Renaud says. “We realized a great direction to go with the story was seeing the relationship between a kid and their pet blossom and develop into real love.”
The filmmakers also sought to make Pets 2 even funnier than the first film. Three of the returning characters—Terrier Max (Patton Oswalt), Pomeranian Gidget (Jenny Slate) and rabbit Snowball (Kevin Hart)—all find themselves in situations that push them far outside their comfort zones, providing the filmmakers, and the cast, with ample opportunities to find the humor in Max’s neuroses, Gidget’s undercover cat operation, and Snowball’s delusions of superhero grandeur. Just as important, beneath the laughs lies a strong beating heart that will resonate with all audiences. Max, as the emotional center of the film, struggles to find the courage to let Liam, a little boy whom he had come to love beyond all expectation, grow up.
For Meledandri, the film is a testament to the powerful connection between us and the animals that share our lives. “At its core, we all go through life seeking unconditional love, and it can be really hard to find that from another human being,” Meledandri says. “But it’s so easy for our pets to give it to us. It’s so deeply comforting, that bond that we make with our pets.”
In Philippine cinemas June 5, The Secret Life of Pets 2 is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures. #TheSecretLifeOfPets2