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Alexandre Desplat's The Secret Life Of Pets

Matt C

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  • 6 months later...

Sounds great! Unfortunately for Desplat, this July 1 release will probably be overshadowed by Williams's same-day The BFG release, which will almost certainly be the best feature film score of 2016. Pets seems like a score that will probably deserve attention and in any other week it would probably get it. 

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Sounds fantastic! Super fun jazz. It's cool how Desplat says in the article he always wanted to do a big jazz score but hadn't gotten the chance -- until now. Is it just me or does the main theme resemble a melody from West Side Story?

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I'm about a quarter of the way through the album and I love this score! Awesome jazz. The presumed main theme heard in the first track does indeed seem to be the main theme. It's heard in several other tracks, too. I haven't identified any other themes yet, but I might be missing some. 


Great way to pass the time while forcing myself not to listen to the BFG until I see it this afternoon. 

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I love "You Have an Owner?"


So emotional. 


I'm about halfway through the OST and that and "Meet the Pets" are probably my two favorite cues. 

9 minutes ago, alextrombone94 said:

Sounds really good. Could be my favourite Desplat score. 


Wow! I haven't heard many of his scores, so I can't really compare this like you can, but I can say that it is fantastic. I really hope I can see this film to see how the score works in context (fabulously, I'd think). 

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I don't think I'll ever hear a Desplat score that speaks to me more profoundly than The King's Speech

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After several breaks over the last few days, I finally finished the Pets album this morning. It's a great score. I'm not a fan of Desplat's action writing, mostly, so those parts are merely fine, but the rest of it, the jazz? Wonderful. There aren't too many stand-out moments, but it's a consistent and pleasant listening experience. 


I still can't get over how good "You Have an Owner?" is! 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here's my report on Pets:


It's basically a comedy, and it's definitely amusing. It's one of those films where the overall plot isn't really the focus; it's the various little comedic things, etc. that matter here. It felt shorter than I would expect, and indeed I checked and it's only 90 minutes. 


There are quite a few "visual candy" moments. The setting is New York City but the film is animated so there's of course a diverse color palette and everything looks perfect. Many scenes have a lot going on in them (city streets, etc.). 


One of these moments is the opening scene, which like several others in the film is scored with pop music as opposed to Desplat cues (I didn't really mind this, I thought it worked well). This visually dynamic (like many others) scene takes us from high above New York to ground level. We are introduced to the main character Max, a dog. 


Then we hear the first Desplat cue, "Katie's Leaving," in the next scene, as Max's owner leaves their high-rise for the day.


I was initially disappointed because I was worried that that meant the marvelous "Meet the Pets," which opens the OST album, was a concert arrangement and wouldn't play in the film.


Luckily, though, the next scene was an awesome montage of owners leaving and pets starting their daytime activities, with that cue playing. 


To be continued...


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The main theme is the one heard in Meet the Pets. It seems to represent the pets in general. 


The most important secondary theme is the one heard at the very beginning of Max and Gidget. It's a love theme for those two characters, or perhaps a theme for just Gidget. It's often heard when Gidget is speaking longingly of Max, and when they finally express their love for one another near the end of the film in the Max and Gidget cue. 


There are at least two other (fairly minor) recurring themes but I'm not sure what they represent. 


I was expecting I might cry during the You Have an Owner? cue/scene, given how moving the cue was by itself on album, and indeed I did have a few tears in my eyes as Duke recounted his joyful experiences with his former owner to Max over a montage of those experiences. The scene was rather cliche but combined with the wonderful music it was the most tear-worthy of the film. 


Desplat's score fit the film very well. The end credits start as the cue "Welcome Home" continues. After that cue ends there's a final mid-credits scene (can't remember if it's scored). After that we hear "Traveling Bossa," I'm fairly certain identically to the album track. And I don't know what we hear after that because my group left. :( Therefore nor did I get to see music department credits like orchestrations. But I would guess that there was no end credits arrangement.


I don't know if there was any unreleased Desplat music.


In terms of OST chronological order, I'm fairly certain there are at least a few tracks not in the right order. It does seem though that the general sections of the film still get their own sections of the OST for the most part -- you're not going to find the first cue at the end, let's put it that way. The last five Desplat tracks on the OST are definitely in chronological order. The final track, We Go Together from Grease, is actually heard in the middle of the film. There were lots more non-Desplat songs but for some reason that's the only one on the OST. 


The film wasn't as emotionally hard-hitting as it could have been -- if this were Pixar Duke would have died underwater (btw I loved the shot of Max and Duke staring at each other through the water, with Duke in the cage, desperate, and Max about to maybe leave him behind; that bit didn't last long enough) and Max and Duke would have spent a few minutes being sad when they discovered Duke's old owner was dead. The film was pretty light and fluffy, much like Duke's fur, and Desplat's delightfully jazzy score mostly follows, although there are a few moments of hard-core action. Especially in the early part of the film the film and score are mostly just fun. The film moved along at a very zippy pace so there was never too much time spent on one thing. Montages of various pets, switching from one to another before you could scarcely register what you were seeing, were plentiful. 


It's definitely worth seeing if you're a film music fan because Desplat's score is a five-star effort, the second best of this year to date trailing only The BFG. 


I was rambling for quite a while so I hope I covered everything, but if you have any questions about the film, feel free to ask. I can't promise I'll remember the answer but I'll try. :)




By the way I wonder if this score has a chance at an Oscar nomination. I've only read one review of the film -- the Associated Press review -- but it mentioned the score very prominently. Desplat's jazz would I think have broad appeal to both pop music fans and film score fans. 

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If I'm not mistaken this is the chronological order


02 Katie's Leaving (0:55)
01 Meet The Pets (2:37)
03 Meet Duke (3:36)
12 Good Morning Max (1:29)
04 Fetch Me A Stick (3:09)
05 Telenovela Squirrels (1:24)
06 Hijack! (2:00)
07 Gidget Meets Tiberius (4:56)
08 Initiation Time (1:01)
10 The Viper (1:49)
13 Sewer Chase (1:09)
14 Who's With Me? (1:21)
17 Flushed Out To Brooklyn (2:47)
15 Me Like What Me See (0:54)
09 Rooftop Route (1:27)
16 Traveling Bossa (1:56)
18 Sausages! (1:13)
11 You Have An Owner? (3:04)
19 Duke's Old House / Captured (3:03)
20 Brooklyn Bridge Showdown (2:34)
21 Rescuing Duke (2:46)
22 Wet But Handsome / Blue Taxi (1:24)
23 Max And Gidget (1:36)
24 Welcome Home (1:57)

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There are definitely tracks from this that will deserve to be on a 'Best Film Music of 2016' playlist but it's not something I will ever feel the need to listen to straight through again.

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