Cast: Patton Oswalt, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate
Director: Chris Renaud
It’s looks like summer is off to a quick start at finding its first contender of most unnecessary remake or sequel. 2016’s The Secret Life of Pets was honestly a fairly enjoyable movie, but I felt like I got my fill from it and didn’t exactly want to see what else this series had to offer. Unfortunately since the first movie was a money-making machine, we were sure to see a sequel at some point. Not necessarily bad, but at the same time offering new or original, The Secret Life of Pets 2 serves exclusively to entertain young audiences for 86 minutes and reunite them with characters that they may remember more fondly then I do.
The film continues to follow the story of Max (voiced by Oswalt), a dog living a comfy home life in New York City. When Max’s owner gets married and has a kid, Max experiences a new wave of emotions; primarily fear and anxiety due to wanting to protect this new child from the dangerous world. Sensing that Max is having emotional issues, his family takes him to a farm away from the city where he meets Rooster (voiced by Harrison Ford), a guide dog who takes care of the farm. Rooster then guides Max through his fears and helps him overcome his feelings of despair. Being that this movie is only 86 minutes long, there isn’t enough time to really flesh out the new characters or the various storylines and subplots. Outside of Max’s plotline, Snowball (voiced by Hart) has a storyline where he plays a bunny superhero named Captain Snowball and goes on a mission to save a caged tiger. Between these storylines, there’s a third storyline where Gidget (voiced by Slate) is in charge of looking over Max’s favorite toy, but loses it in an apartment full of cats. Naturally, all of these storylines need the appropriate amount of time to get developed and eventually find a way to connect to one another in the end. This makes the movie feel very rushed as we barely spend any time learning anything deeper than surface level about these characters before it moves on to something different. This honestly feels a lot more like a made-for-TV movie to kick off a series on Nickelodeon, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if a series emerges from these movies. It’s a very formulaic A plot B plot C plot movie with very one-dimensional animation, voice acting, and storylines. However, that’s exactly what I was expecting from the context of this movie. I can’t get mad at something that’s generally benevolent even if it is a pretty shameless cash grab. The one thing that surprised me in a positive way was how pretty and authentic the score was. It makes you feel immersed in the city and feel like you’re actually there in New York. I forgot that Alexander Desplat did the score for the original film and he’s brought his magic back to screen in the sequel too. I have no idea why he would want to be involved in a project like this when he has worked on some amazingly beautiful movies in the past, but Universal probably pays pretty well and I can’t be mad at how much better he made the film. Ultimately, The Secret Life of Pets 2 will still be pretty bland for anyone whose age is in the double digits, but it’s far from the worst thing your kids could watch this year and won’t be that much of an eyesore for adults.
Overall, most sequels are never as good as the original, and The Secret Life of Pets 2 fits that description perfectly. While I don’t think anyone will be offended by the drop in quality, but it is noticeable and shows us exactly what a cash grab looks like to general audiences. If I was watching this as a pilot movie for a TV show, I think the movie would be better received, but instead, The Secret Life of Pets 2 refuses to do anything original and recycles the same formula that almost every children’s movie uses.
Overall Score: 5.5/10