Review: The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019)

The Secret Life of Pets 2

Rating

Director

Chris Renaud

Screenplay

Brian Lynch

Length

1h 26m

Starring

Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Harrison Ford, Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate, Tiffany Haddish, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress, Chris Renaud, Ellie Kemper, Pete Holmes, Henry Lynch, Nick Kroll

MPAA Rating

PG for some action and rude humor

Original Preview

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Buy on DVD/Blu-ray

Soundtrack

Poster

Source Material

Review

In animation, sequels are a natural part of studios’ repertoires. While the 1990s Disney renaissance sent these features the direct-to-video route, it’s an important part of their legacy to ensure future outings remain profitable. The Secret Life of Pets 2 is a natural progenitor of its fun-filled predecessor even if it naturally fails to improve upon the material.

The original The Secret Life of Pets was an entertaining mass of pet cliches about what our lovable furballs (and non-furballs) do when we’re at work. The pets then go on an adventure in New York City that was both adorable and humorous, but disposable nonetheless. The sequel is largely more of the same, giving our protagonists new adventures in familiar spaces with a couple of new pets joining the team.

Back for another go around are Patton Oswalt voicing the slightly neurotic Jack Russell terrier Max whose behavior has raised concern in his owner and has led her to take him to the vet and eventually on an out of town-excursion to get away from his neuroses. The problem is, it’s his protective streak towards his owner’s new child that is causing him to lose sleep in a paranoid stupor. It’s up to newcomer Harrison Ford as a gruff Welsh sheepdog named Rooster to help him see that. Also returning in this storyline is the lovable canine dullard Duke, voiced by Eric Stonestreet.

Kevin Hart also returns as the cowardly vainglorious bunny Snowball in superhero clothes who partners up with Tiffany Haddish’s new character, a badass Shih Tzu named Daisy. Although Daisy is far braver than Snowball, she encourages his fierceness when he would otherwise look the other way.

The third story occurring simultaneously and, like the others, is bound to eventually merge with the others, features Jenny Slate as the even more neurotic Pomeranian Gidget who seeks advice from the imperturbable fat cat Chloe (Lake Bell) and two others as she plots to infiltrate a Cat Lady’s apartment where being a canine is dangerous.

With sequels, more of the same isn’t always good, but as the Madagascar series proved, throw in enough twists, turns, and new elements and you still get a pretty fun film (or two). This is precisely what Illumination has done with The Secret Life of Pets 2. The engaging batch of voice actors make this sometimes too chaotic sequel an enjoyable affair. As the film progresses through its three seemingly disparate narratives, everything can get slightly convoluted at times, but is no less fun as a result.

All three stories eventually come crashing together and in such a surprisingly effective and hilarious way, the audience can forgive the rather simplistic machinations that are required to get it all set up. The Secret Life of Pets 2 dials up the cute factor in its second outing and there’s just enough here to suggest that a third film wouldn’t be entirely unwelcome as long as they can avoid getting bogged down in the trivialities that sank Illumination’s third Despicable Me film and its pointless prequel Minions.

Review Written

February 28, 2020

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