The Secret Life of Pets 2 Movie Review

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is a 2019 American 3D computer animated comedy film produced by Illumination, directed by Chris Renaud, co-directed by Jonathan del Val, and written by Brian Lynch. It is the sequel to The Secret Life of Pets (2016) and the second feature film in the franchise. The film features the voices of Patton Oswalt (who replaces Louis C.K.), Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate, Tiffany Haddish, Lake Bell, Nick Kroll, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Chris Renaud, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan and Harrison Ford.

The film was theatrically released in the United States on June 7, 2019, by Universal Pictures. It received mixed reviews from critics and has grossed over $432 million worldwide

Plot

Sometime after the events of the first film, Max and Duke’s owner, Katie, gets married to a man named Chuck and have a son, Liam, whom Max disapproves of at first due to his rough play but eventually softens up to him. Later, Max’s overprotective feelings for Liam develop into an itch which prompts Katie to get him a dog cone from the veterinarian in an effort to lower his symptoms. Max’s luck changes when Duke reveals that the family is going on a road trip outside of the city.

When Max and Duke’s family reaches a farm owned by Chuck’s uncle, Max grows unaccustomed to the farm’s ways, including local sheepdog Rooster. After an incident with the farm’s sheep, Rooster takes Max out to find one of the missing sheep that ran away. Rooster’s teaching and encouragement to Max about acting unafraid prompts Max to successfully retrieve the sheep. Rooster allows Max to stay with him overnight as a result. Before departure, Rooster also gives Max one of his handkerchiefs as a souvenir.

Before Max left, he had entrusted his favorite toy, Busy Bee, to Gidget. Unfortunately, Gidget loses Busy Bee in a cat-infested apartment owned by a cat lady. She receives cat lessons from Chloe, Mel, Buddy, and Sweet Pea in order to sneak in the apartment easier. With the help of Norman, she successfully retrieves Busy Bee and unintentionally gets hailed as the “queen of cats”.

Meanwhile, Chloe and Snowball meet Shih Tzu Daisy, who explains that she needs Snowball, who dreams of being a superhero, to assist her with rescuing a White tiger cub named Hu, who can understand pets, but can’t talk to them. While on flight back to the city, Daisy encountered him being held captive by an abusive circus owner named Sergei. Daisy and Snowball sneak in and find the circus Hu is in. With much difficulty from Sergei’s black wolves, they free Hu from the circus. However, in the heat of the escape, Daisy accidentally drops her flower clip, which the wolves use to track her down.

She and Snowball take him to Pops’ apartment first. Pops reluctantly lets Hu live there at first, but due to his destruction of the apartment afterwards, Hu is kicked out and relocated in Max and Duke’s apartment. Around the same time, the family returns from the trip. Sergei and his wolves track Daisy down and capture both Hu and Daisy. Sergei escapes in his train moving for the circus in which Snowball, Max, and Norman pursue while contacting Gidget for assistance in the chase. Gidget and the cats take their owner off in her car, in pursuit of the train.

Max and Snowball defeat the wolves and Sergei’s pet monkey, while freeing Hu and Daisy respectively. Max, using his newfound bravery Rooster gave him, successfully infiltrates the train locomotive Sergei is in. The rest of the animals go and kick him out of the train. But before they are shot by Sergei, Gidget, along with the cat lady, Chloe, Mel, Buddy, Duke, and Sweet Pea knock him out with her car and offers the animals a ride back home. Life resumes normally, with Max and Duke’s family saying goodbye to Liam as he enters his first day of preschool while Hu takes up residence in his new home with the cat lady and Snowball becomes New York City’s local superhero.

In a mid-credits scene, Snowball raps to “Panda”, which only lasts briefly before his owner, Molly, comes into the room he is in.

My Personal Thoughts

The first Secret Life… film was a cute, prettily designed comedy about what animals get up to when their owners are out. It was a good set-up, mined for a lot of strong visual gags, but it was a joke that stretched its potential even over 90 minutes. The inevitable sequel – the first made over $875 million worldwide – scrabbles around a bit to find something new to explore.

It opts for a bit of a hotchpotch structure, jumbling together a few stories that are individually fun, even if they don’t knit together very cleanly. Max, the highly strung Jack Russell (now voiced by Patton Oswalt instead of Louis C.K.) is stressed by the arrival of a human baby in his family. A holiday to a farm makes him panic constantly about the child’s safety, but he’s given some lessons in letting go by a gruff old hound (Harrison Ford, surprisingly making his animation debut). Back at home, Gidget (Jenny Slate) has lost Max’s favourite toy and has to, for complicated reasons, learn to pass as a cat to retrieve it. In a completely out of nowhere extra plot, hyperactive bunny Snowball (Kevin Hart) gets pulled into a mission to save a snow tiger cub.

The animation is once again very appealing — fuzzy and cheery and springy in a way that matches the lightness of the movie. It’s stuffed full of characters — Tiffany Haddish is added as a fearless Shih Tzu; an adorable little exposition-spouting creature — that are all pretty broad but very energetically played. Just like the first film, there’s not a lot to make it memorable nor to mark it out in the crowded animated comedy genre, but it’s very easy to like. A finale that tries to beef up the film into an action movie doesn’t entirely suit it. It’s at its best when it’s sweet and silly and just blundering about being adorable.

A sequel that feels less necessary than willed into being, but that doesn’t mean it’s not pleasantly entertaining. There are more fluffy animals than in the first movie, more set-pieces and about the same number of laughs.

As a whole, The Secret Life of Pets 2 has the same problem as Illumination’s Despicable Me spinoff Minions: it plays out like a series of shorts that’ve been padded out into a somewhat ungainly full-length feature. Obviously, for a lot of people (families especially), The Secret Life of Pets‘ four-legged heroes and their antics are the real attraction, and the sequel ought to deliver enough of what they’re looking for. Still, while other Illumination films have balanced their wacky comedy with simple and even touching stories, this one struggles to do the same. Fans of the original movie may want to check this one out anyway, but hopefully The Secret Life of Pets 3 (if it happens) will give them something a little more substantial to chew on.

I will rate this movie 7/10.

Directed byChris Renaud
Produced by Chris Meledandri Janet Healy
Written byBrian Lynch
Starring Patton Oswalt Kevin Hart Eric Stonestreet Jenny Slate Tiffany Haddish Lake Bell Nick Kroll Dana Carvey Ellie Kemper Chris Renaud Hannibal Buress Bobby Moynihan Harrison Ford
Music byAlexandre Desplat
Edited byTiffany Hillkurtz
Production
companies
Universal Pictures Illumination
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date May 24, 2019 (United Kingdom) June 7, 2019 (United States)
Running time86 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$80 million
Box office$432.5 million
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