The Pets are Back
Since we last left Max (Patton Oswalt) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a lot has changed in their lives. Their owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper), has met a guy, fallen in-love, and had a baby. As “The Secret Life of Pets 2” opens, the adorable and lovable dog/baby interactions are plentiful. As he ages, Max becomes anxious with every step Liam takes. One day, the family takes Max and Duke on a trip to the countryside; and Max leaves his favorite toy with Gidget (Jenny Slate) for safekeeping. In the country, Max and Duke are forced to sleep outside, encountering new creatures and the homeowner’s rugged dog Rooster (Harrison Ford). Back in New York, Gidget enlists the help of Chloe (Lake Bell) and Buddy (Hannibal Buress) to rescue Max’s toy from a cat-filled apartment. Meanwhile, Snowball (Kevin Hart) is enlisted to help Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) rescue a tiger trapped in the circus. The pets all go through their own, separate adventures this time around, allowing them each to grow in their own way.
“The Secret Life of Pets 2” seems like a three different half-hour episodes strung together for a feature length film. If the above synopsis sounds like it’s convoluted and all-over the place, it’s because the film is. Luckily, they assembled a strong, fun voice cast for the film; featuring the retuning Stonestreet, Slate, Hart, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Ellie Kemper and Bobby Moynihan and newcomers Oswalt, Ford, Haddish, and Nick Kroll to name a few. Louis C.K. was excellent as Max in the 2016 original, but Oswalt does well enough here this time around. Ford also proves to have a knack for voice work as Rooster is a great addition to the franchise. There are some good laughs throughout “The Secret Life of Pets 2”, including a great scene at the vet’s office, but there just weren’t as many as in the original.
The film has a few lessons to teach, but after that it’s just an odd adventure film destined to keep the attention span on only those 12 and younger. The animation is gorgeous and the pets/animals are truly adorable. However, there are a few very strange music choices throughout; including a clever, though not age-appropriate rendition during the credits. The film’s biggest triumph is how it makes you feel towards your own pets, waiting for the credits to roll so you can go home and hug them. The 86 minutes flow smoothly, but leave you asking why a number of times. At the heart of this franchise, there is an excellent, storytelling idea begging to be told, but we haven’t seen it yet. Maybe it would be better on a streaming platform? Sure, it may be incredibly difficult to assemble these stars for a non-theatrical avenue, but surely that would result in a better product.
“The Secret Life of Pets 2” is sure to entertain the young ones, but the adults will catch themselves checking their phones or watches. At the surface, there are enough “cute” sequences, but unfortunately there’s nothing below the surface. I think this franchise has enormous promise, but they need to sit down and figure out how to execute their ideas better.
THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 is rated PG for some action and rude humor, in theaters JUNE 7TH!