The Secret Life of Pets 2 is the plainly-titled sequel to 2016’s original film, both produced by Illumination Entertainment (best known for the Despicable Me series, among others). Whereas earlier trailers in the campaign for The Secret Life of Pets 2 were built around minute-long “character trailers” that are in essence designed for quick social sharing and splicing into gifs, here is a trailer in a more conventional sense—a narrative-driven affair that does include some humour, but leans into feel-good, family fare.
The first half of the trailer focuses more on slapstick humour and comedic antics, using the now-classic (2009) hit by Swedish indie pop band Miike Snow, “Animals.” As is often the case for the kind of family films Illumination is known for, there doesn’t seem to be a particular reason behind this musical choice beyond setting a tone and the popularity of the song. By the same measure, it is interesting that at 0:28 the song is cut such that the chorus cuts in on the lyric “I’m still an animal” just as the turkey chases Max, the dog (and protagonist of the film). The lyrics are difficult to discern if you’re unfamiliar with the song, but it’s not essential to understanding the dramatic arc of the scene.
Things take a marked turn at 0:39, with the wolf’s entrance (voiced by Harrison Ford). Cue the time-honoured single note piano trope at 0:45. However, expectations get turned on their head at 0:51 with the date card (this summer) and the segue of the piano note to The Killers’ 2004 hit “All These Things That I’ve Done.” The original song also starts with this single note motif, which make the segue all the more effective. The montage that follows introduces an ensemble cast, with the propulsive Killers song keeping everything feeling cohesive.
Sometimes a couple of well-chosen songs—no new arrangements, covers, or orchestration—can be all that is required to make a trailer edit come together. Moreover, both songs used in this trailer date from the aughts (2000-2009), a decade of music that might appeal most to the nostalgic sensibilities of parents of young children—undoubtedly a primary marketing demographic for this film.
The Secret Life of Pets 2 arrives in theatres June 7.
— Curtis Perry