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!"