PixarsBiggestFan
Only comes to show that Universal can't come up with a good idea; I totally agree with the guy I need this video.

Not only are characters similar in personality, but some look similar. Even worse, there are major similarities in plot lines.
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ReptilePatrol
I haven't seen Secret Life of Pets yet, but merely the premise itself definitely exudes similarities already, and I must admit, "this is literally just Toy Story but with pets instead of toys" went though my mind when I first heard about this movie.

Pets director Chris Renaud recently told Cartoon Brew, "The concept started with [Illumination Entertainment CEO] Chris Meladandri basically saying, ‘What about you doing a movie about what your pets do when you’re not home?’"

Replace "pets" with "toys" in that sentence and you basically get Toy Story. And given the significance of Toy Story, I'm certain they must have realized what they were doing when they set out with this story idea. After all, Sausage Party is Toy Story but from the POV of food instead of toys - but given that it's intended to be a parody of Toy Story, that's understandable.

Given Illumination's business model, I'm not surprised they've decided to do this. They run a lean operation there, and don't even have a campus like Pixar or Disney; Renaud works in France and communicates with his story artists in the US online/by phone. And given the fact that they've run massive marketing and merchandise campaigns for both this and Minions, it's clear that they've decided to exploit the effective formula Hollywood has discovered in using computer animation to farm box office from family audiences.

However, to be fair, it's clearly not a ripoff like Antz was of A Bug's Life. And my judgement may even be a bit premature, given how I haven't seen Pets yet - I'm sure there's artistic merits we may be overlooking as we're busy staring at the elephant in the room instead (the character animation, from what I've seen so far in marketing material, is very very nice). I'll comment again after I've seen the movie for myself though [smile]
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Bonnie

Oh boy.

I just want to start this by saying I really hate the pet movie. I'm sick of seeing it everywhere. I'm bothered that they took a fertile idea and decided to once again go for the "We are here, we must get somewhere else, and have wacky hijinks along the way" plot. The can't stand the blatantly lazy design on the human.* I came in here fully ready to internalize the idea it had ripped off a superior movie and start insulting the thing for it.

But at the same time, I think people are way too quick to brush off the possibility of coincidences, and I'd be a hypocrite if I stopped considering the possibility of something being a coincidence when doing so would allow me to hate something more.

There are a few things I think it's important for all of us to keep in mind watching this;

1. Bias. The video's purpose is to sway us to one side. It twisting things is a possibility that should not be ignored. Also, as Pixar fans, it's easy to get riled up at supposed in justice in regards to them, and any of us who don't like Illumination (oh, oh, me, I don't!) will likely be more willing to believe bad things about them.

2. None of us, not even this guy, have seen this movie (okay, maybe some of us have, in which case I'd love to hear your thoughts). Therefore we are inherently missing information.

3. Think about what could have led to such coincidences. There's an unfortunate tendency to view coincidences as two things happening to match through completely random chance and that's not the way it works. Take this movie for example; when you're already working from the idea that someone well known in an area is lost, is it really that weird to come up with the idea to have a group from that area going out to find them? Or is it the logical flow of events? For another example from this movie, having the twist villains seem nice at first is, unfortunately, standard; it's the quick and easy way to deflect suspicion, you don't need to be watching other movies to get that idea.

On top of that, as much as it pains me to say it, some of these comparisons where painful with how much they were stretching.

- Characters having the same (ALMOST the same, if I'm remembering right, which makes it even more of a stretch) eye color? Really? They both have literally the most common eye color ever. And I love how when they're discussing the colors they just kind of go "Oh also these colors not present in the other one never mind moving on" for all the other colors that appear on Woody.

Actually, can we linger on that for a moment and figure out exactly what Illumination would gain by ripping off Woody's design in such a roundabout way? Why bother? They clearly were able to come up with a completely different design for the supposed Buzz rip off. They're different enough it's not like it made designing it easier. It'd just leave an unnecessary clue to shady antics. 

- Dude outright admits Buzz and the brown dog have nothing in common but then goes off on them having character designs meant to enhance who they are and their role. That's a common thing in this medium, it's not just something Buzz had that pops up rarely enough that the dog having it means anything. 

- The thing with Rex (who doesn't treat the game like it's real, by the way, until Zurg and Buzz start actually fighting in real life) is pretty much "A character plays a game in each movie", a completely different game for each, at that. Very vague.


And finally, to put things into perspective, I would like to point out that similar accusations are lobbed at Pixar all the time. I'm willing to bet not many people here give the rip off accusations much consideration when people compare Good Dinosaur to Ice Age (Land Before Time...Lion King...etc.) or when people compare Cars to Doc Hollywood, or any of the other comparisons, despite the fact that you could most likely make an equally strong argument for those as this does for Toy Story/Secret Life.

I am not in anyway trying to say without a doubt it is not a rip off. It may be. They could have had Toy Story playing on a loop in all their offices for all I know. And I most definitely not saying that no one should believe it's a rip off if they really have thought it through and they apply the same standards to all movies accused of copying. I don't plan on seeing it to find out, personally, and, as mentioned, it's hard to really confirm things like this. I just think we should really step back and consider before lambasting the thing for supposedly stealing. 

And yes, I am disgusted with myself for typing all of that in defense of a movie I don't like.


* Seriously, how did designing her go? "Hey, guys, if we take the Onceler, and make his face slightly more feminine and give him different clothes, it'll look like a whole new character!" "Brilliant, man!"

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Vellerie
When I first saw the previews for this, my mind immediately raced to Bolt. Animals trying to find their way home, etc (not that Bolt was the first movie to do this, as Homeward Bound, for instance, did this, but the animation, comedic style, and big city setting just rang off those "Bolt" bells). But Toy Story? That wasn't even in my trajectory lol.
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mac95
Yeah, this has been an issue way back when the synopsis of the film was released.

Not only is the basic plot structure similar, but having seen The Secret Life Of Pets, I can say that there are actual scenarios and events that are lifted right out of all three Toy Story films, while the plot is of the first.

They didn't even bother adding much else to the story. And since you can copy a plot but not the actual characters, Illumination failed in that department and all the characters are bland, interchangeable action figures.

My favorite thing about the movie was a character that I actually couldn't line up with a Toy Story character, a girl dog named Gidget. If my favorite thing about a movie was the only original element, I think Illumination should trust in themselves to make a good story and not just go for the quick and easy route. They did it with Despicable Me, they should believe they can do it again!

The movie was beautiful to look at though, very nice design and color scheme. Well done on that.

My favorite part was the short film at the beginning with the minions. Say what you will about the minions, but I love them. 
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Vellerie
Ok so I watched it today, since my brother's girlfriend and her mom wanted to, and it was better than I was expecting. It was not much like Toy Story at all. The most notable parallel to Toy Story was the rabbit, who was reminiscent of Lotso in the whole "anti-owner, owners will only hurt you," thing, and he even mentioned something about garbage (yep, Lotso). Max, eh, a tiny bit like Woody. He's a dog using cunning to try and get his master to get rid of the new dog. They reminded me more of my own dogs than Woody and Buzz. And speaking of Buzz, Duke was absolutely nothing like him. Honestly, as a character, Duke didn't stand out much among the (loads of) other characters, but his backstory was sad.

There is an obvious Disney and Pixar influence at work, from some of the story telling methods to the use of a jazzy soundtrack. But it had its own thing going for it, and some similarities between this movie and Pixar movies are honestly just cliches at this point. For instance, there was a scene in which the bunny disguises himself as a baby (an overused trope used by both Zootopia and Finding Dory just this year!) and animals driving a vehicle very badly (Finding Dory, and seeing as both movies came out within a month apart, I doubt it was stolen).

There was no real bad guy, which was nice. And Tiberius and Gidget were good characters that stand out among the cast. There were parts that were genuinely funny in this movie (the cat, the old dog with wheels, Tiberius' introductory scene, pretty much everything revolving around Gidget). There was always something happening in this movie to occupy your interest, and there were loads of characters to follow and learn about, and, obviously, things that pet owners can relate to (again, I thought about my two dogs often).

Was it groundbreaking and subversive? No. But it was entertaining, and most assuredly not a rip off, unless you count being inspired by Lotso in and of itself a rip off (and the character arc was much different from Lotso). I mean, everyone takes inspiration from somewhere, and using an existing idea in your own way doesn't make you a plagiarist. Maybe a tad unoriginal, in the animation domain, since they took some well worn Disney and Pixar formulas, but, well, since I'm a Pixar fan, I'm not mad. I'd love for animation to take a new turn, but this movie was still alright for what it was.

That short, though, was awful. Please, Illumination, move on from the Minions and make more originals.

EDIT: also, here is a great article on how Animation has dominated the box office this year http://www.cartoonbrew.com/box-office-report/secret-life-pets-breaks-record-original-animated-film-debut-141490.html

In sum, I prefer to look at animation industries as partners in reshaping the entertainment industry rather than merely competitors.
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PIX-R.113
What you talking about? It's nothing like Toy Story at all! It is only the same story, the same kind of characters, etc. But that doesn't mean it is a rip-off!

Just kidding of course, but I am thinking about giving the movie a chance through rental.
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PixarsBiggestFan
If your going to see Pets, I would recommend wait for the DVD at your local library, to give the films a little profit as possible.
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Pixar Post - T.J.
Interesting thoughts for sure. Yeah, some of the items he called out in the video are valid...but I have to agree with Bonnie, the part about the eye color and other similarities is a stretch to say the least! Yeesh!

Yes, some of the story elements mirrored Toy Story, but the thing that has bothered me more than the story from the first artwork we saw from the movie is how close Snowball (the rabbit) reminds me of Alec (from Presto). I know this isn't a new thought, but I wanted to bring it up since we're talking about borrowing or stealing from other movies. 


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Sally
Saw the film on Thursday, and i knew for some time about this, it was a good movie, love some of the characters, so art direction, but to me, it isn't close to Toy Story's plot, sure, it was almost similar, but it isn't close

Also the bunny from Presto has a name? I didn't knew that after eight years [biggrin]
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Pixar Post - T.J.
Sally wrote:
Also the bunny from Presto has a name?

Absolutely, his full name is Alec Azam!
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