Louis C.K. Kevin Hart. Eric Stonestreet. Jenny Slate. Ellie Kemper. Hannibal Burress. Albert Brooks. Lake Bell. Steve Coogan. Dana Carvey. Bobby Moynihan. Yes, one of the year’s most impressive comic ensembles opens today – in The Secret Life of Pets, a PG-rated animated adventure from the people behind Despicable Me. (PSA: It is preceded by a particularly excruciating “Minions” short.) Few animated movies have gathered as many terrific comedians in one place – but (particularly after studios figured out they could use movie stars and stand-ups to draw older audiences) there have been plenty of wildly funny performances by animated voice actors. Here are a few favorites.
15. Jenny Slate, The Secret Life of Pets
Louie, Kevin, and the rest of the gang have their moments, but Slate is the comic MVP of Secret Life. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that she’s able to turn a household pet into a fully-formed comic character; after all, this is Marcel the Shell with Shoes On we’re talking about. As Gidget, the white Pomeranian next door who realizes she has a crush on protagonist Max after he disappears, Slate is a delight, using her slightly scratchy, charmingly fluttering voice to put across her lovesick fear, describing Max to her search party as “Lost! Scared! So, so handsome!” and designating him “My friend! Some might say my boyfriend!” It sounds like a one-gag character, but far from it; Slate gives this tiny white pooch the longing and semi-desperation of her best performances, and raises the movie’s small stakes in the process.