In celebration of DC League of Pets, we’re celebrating the best movies featuring dogs, cats, and other pets as integral characters. Our 12 theaters for the week will be showing:
Theater 1 – Men in Black (1998) – Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
Aliens may be commonplace in movies, but talking Pugs? Not-so-much. Kicking off a craze that still moves the merchandise in theme parks around the world, an alien/pug crossover become something of a cultural sensation in the late 1990s. Also, the cat guarding the galaxy is nothing to slouch at. Incredible makeup work on the aliens themselves, halting Titanic‘s juggernaut performance at the Oscars (Makeup was one of the only losses that night). Will Smith confirmed his star status, and Vincent D’Onofrio got robbed of an Oscar nomination.
Theater 2 – Love and Monsters (2020) – Directed by Michael Matthews
The Dylan O’Brien staring film was wildly underrated on its release. Great creature design, exciting action, and a wonderful performance from our pup. It surprised with an Oscar nomination for visual effects, but the work is seriously impressive. There’s an interesting undertone about finding your place in the world as we approach the apocalypse, but it’s fair if this is one you want to skip for now. However, it is one of the low-key best films of 2020.
Theater 3 – The Artist (2011) – Directed by Michel Hazanavicius
The Best Picture winner has an iconic performance from Uggie, the little pup who would take home the Palm Dog at Cannes. Don’t mess with Uggie. A genuinely interesting look at the changing landscape in film during the 1920s and 1930s, while also delivering on its silent film premise. Beautifully shot, and featured the Oscar-winning performance by Jean Dujardin.
Theater 4 – Coraline (2009) – Directed by Henry Selick
A talking cat, voiced by the legend Keith David, was always going to make this list. He’s even named “The Cat.” Throw in some brilliant 3D work, that holds up even on 2D formats, and you’ve got a forgotten masterpiece of stop-motion. We’re also excited to welcome Henry Slick back to the film work later this year, for Wendell & Wild (a collaboration with Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key).
Theater 5 – Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995) – Directed by Steve Oedekerk
I’m not sure I buy that the second Ace Ventura adventure is better than the original, but considering the problematic aspects at the end of that film, I’ll air on the side of caution. It would be impossible to craft this list without Jim Carrey in some fashion, even if that meant acknowledging the very frustrating Mr. Popper’s Penguins.
Theater 6 (IMAX) – I Am Legend (2007) – Directed by Francis Lawrence
I did not say everything had to turn out well for the pets. One of the most heartbreaking moments in any film ever, I Am Legend deserves a spot for Sam, a very good dog. Visually spectacular, especially when the monsters are given the ability to chase. Truly terrifying when it needs to turn up the tension. Let’s put it on the biggest screen we got.
Theater 7 (DOLBY) – Nope (2022) – Directed by Jordan Peele
While I Am Legend may have the biggest screen, Jordan Peele takes center stage in our theater. Nope is a masterclass in visual and aural splendor. Few films will ever approach the ambition of the film, and the horses play an integral role in the film. Another pet/trained animal also shows the dangers of the process.
Theater 8 – Alligator (1980) – Directed by Lewis Teague
Remember, it’s a bad idea to flush your pets down the toilet. Really, this is a cautionary tale. Otherwise, one day you’ll jump in off a diving board and into the jaws of something scaley. This Jaws parody contains plenty of violence, bad dudes getting punished, and a remarkably cool animatronic of an Alligator. It’s also got Robert Forester doing a surprisingly great job for a B movie.
Theater 9 – Zeus and Roxanne (1997) – Directed by George Miller (not that one)
Let’s be real. A dolphin and a dog become best friends. We’re done here.
Theater 10 – Sounder (1972) – Directed by Martin Ritt
A powerhouse film about family, inequality, and the struggle to provide a better life for the next generation. One of the most important novels I read growing up was only further enhanced by one of the best films of the 1970s. Cicily Tyson and Paul Winfield deliver powerhouse performances.
Theater 11 – Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) – The Coen Brothers
Okay, definitely a stretch, but hear me out. The cat is important to the story and adds a strangely philosophical lens to the story of a folk musician moving through Greenwich Village in the 1960s. The film instantly minted Oscar Isaac one of our best actors.
Theater 12 – The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) – Directed by Chris Renaud, co-directed by Jonathan del Val
Why see the inferior first entry, when Secret Life of Pets 2 is vastly superior? It’s not only funnier, more heartfelt, and has a better screenplay, but it adds Patton Oswalt & Harrison Ford to the mix.