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The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) Film Review

★★


Written by: #BrianLynch


 

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) is a computer animated adventure/comedy sequel, produced by Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment. Both directors are well known for their work on the 2010s animated box office hits such as the Despicable Me franchise (2010-), The Lorax (2012) and Minions (2015).


The first Pets film received generally positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. However, in November 2017, it was announced that the featured comedian Louis C.K who voiced protagonist terrier Max would not reprise his role after being accused of and later admitting to sexual misconduct with women. Patton Oswalt, popular stand-up comedian and actor who is also known for providing his voice for Remy the rat in Pixar’s critically acclaimed Ratatouille (2007), took over the role for the follow up.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) film poster

After watching the first film in preparation for this review, this critic unfortunately had very low aspirations after finding the original far too reliant on fast paced slapstick comedic action to keep kids glued to the screen. Luckily, although the sequel does suffer from problems evident in the first, Pets 2 is a much more enjoyable outing for the ensemble cast with an improved, richer narrative and clean, crisp animation to boot.


The plot continues the story of Max the terrier and his pet friends, following their secret lives as their owners leave them for work or school each day. Max and his dog brother Duke (Eric Stonestreet) face some major changes when their owner Katie gets married and has a child and when the family go on a family trip to the countryside, farm dog Rooster (Harrison Ford) helps Max to overcome his fears. These sections of the film’s three way narrative are by far the strongest with some interesting themes explored in a digestible way for young children to understand. Max forms a touching strong attachment to his owner’s toddler and this plot explores relatable and relevant concepts like needing to find the strength to let go and trust our loved ones to tackle life’s milestones on their own terms.


Similar to other animated sequels, the film does suffer with having a bit too much going on, with two other narratives occurring alongside the main bulk of the story. One sees Gidget (Jenny Slate) try to rescue Max’s favourite toy from a cat-packed apartment and the other has Snowball (Kevin Hart) set out on a mission to free a white tiger named Hu from a circus. Both have plenty of slapstick comedy and some funny jokes every now and then to keep the younger kids entertained, but only come into fruition during the action packed climax when all must converge on the circus train to rescue Hu. Like the first film, the climax is holey unrealistic with animals being thrown about everywhere on a speeding train and not suffering any injuries, but a nice wholesome and sweet ending makes up for the film’s limitations.


The voice cast is also strong all around, with Kevin Hart greatly toning down his over the top shouting performance from the first film and Patton Oswalt slipping into Max’s paws seamlessly. Harrison Ford has a small role in the film, but his usual gruff voice gives Rooster a nice respectable edge.


Overall, The Secret Life of Pets 2 is a surprisingly superior film compared to the first, which is down to better, more developed characters and good performances from its cast alongside slick animation. The film is harmless popcorn entertainment for the kids for an hour and twenty minutes, but if you and the family are looking for more mature, nuanced storytelling from animated features, you’re better off going with a Pixar flick!

 

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) Trailer:


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