The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019)
The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019)

Genre: Fairy Tale Running Time: 1 hr. 26 min.

Release Date: June 7th, 2019 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Chris Renaud Actors: Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Harrison Ford, Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate, Tiffany Haddish, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress, Nick Kroll, Ellie Kemper

 


 

“A

www … kids. Everybody loves them, right?” But not Max (Patton Oswalt), a dog with enough other things in his life to worry about. When his owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper), meets Chuck, a marriage looms on the horizon. And then a baby, Liam, arrives. And that’s when the terrorization begins.

Eventually, however, the infant moves past the chaotic toddler phase to become a calmer child; the monster transforms into a lovable new companion. Along with fluffy dog Duke (Eric Stonestreet), Max regains his happy family scenario, soon establishing overprotective feelings for the human youngster. After all, the world is full of dangers, and his new charge needs ‘round-the-clock protection.

The other pets inhabiting the pastel-colored New York apartment also return to their usual routines, while adopting a few additional hobbies on the side: elderly Pops (Dana Carvey) trains a collection of malleable puppies; Norman the hamster (voiced by director Chris Renaud) rambles through the block aboard his remote-controlled vehicle; Chloe the flabby cat (Lake Bell) pesters her owner, knocks over random objects, and enjoys the occasional catnip; and pampered Gidget (Jenny Slate) uses the dishwasher as a private spa. Mel the pug (Bobby Moynihan) and Buddy the dachshund (Hannibal Buress), meanwhile, receive negligible screentime and only a couple of lines each.

Snowball the bunny (Kevin Hart), on the other hand, moves up into full-on costar mode, donning the costume of alter ego Captain Snowball, a crime-fighting cottontail superhero who trains continuously for hand-to-hand combat and rescue missions. Although he has a number of psychological issues, he’s been wholly converted to a protagonist. And Max gets a taste of his own behavioral disorders when Liam grows more independent, prompting Katie to schedule a trip to veterinarian Dr. Francis, who prescribes an embarrassing cone to stop Max’s nervous scratching.

Once again, oodles of pet-related humor presents itself naturally, ringing true with animal idiosyncrasies that will be far funnier to those with pets of their own. Interestingly, this sequel follows the deviation of “Cars 2,” in which anthropomorphic creations behave less like their actual identities and more like humans. Merging the premise of “Rover Dangerfield” with “City Slickers,” Max and Duke vacation on a farm, where they’re met with starkly different views on just about everything, accompanied by a distinct challenge to Max’s manliness and confidence. Other returning characters are divided up for separate misadventures, with Gidget guarding a prized Busy Bee toy, and Snowball tasked with saving a tiger cub from mistreatment at the hands of a circus owner. In time the three storylines converge, but they each offer opportunities for varying lessons on responsibility and bravery and numerous other human ideals. More than one dream sequence provides further examples of human-oriented comedy adapted for the four-legged heroes (they can still drive cars and operate complex machinery, yet admit to being illiterate).

Several new characters join the fray, including formidable farm dog Rooster (Harrison Ford), streetwise Daisy (Tiffany Haddish), villain Sergei (Nick Kroll), and a particularly adorable baby bulldog named Pickles. With the setting transitioning to the countryside, there is also a wealth of varying animal species not before seen in the series’ universe. Louis C.K.’s voicework has been expectedly replaced, upping Oswalt’s animated film repertoire, though the less controversial comedian doesn’t alter the persona in any significant way. While the picture is a slight improvement over the original, smartly benefitting from a refusal to redo all the same jokes from its predecessor, the laughs are light, the hazards are insincere, and the originality is fleeting. Fortunately, the cuteness is on overdrive and the fun-loving mischievousness has been amplified for a brisker, more enjoyable structuring of adventures.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10