The Secret Life of Pets 2 movie review: Never a dull moment despite more misses than hits
The Secret Life of Pets 2 is, against all odds, better than the original film in both humour and tone.
castPatton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Harrison Ford, Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate, tiffany Haddish, Lake Bell
directorChris Renaud, Jonathan del Val
Three years ago I had no idea what to expect from The Secret Life of Pets and it turned out to be middling entertainment that didn’t reinvent the wheel but worked pretty well for its target audiences. We now have a sequel that is, against all odds, better than the original film in both humour and tone. Of course it is not significant enough to warrant a watch in the theatres, but you wouldn’t be too upset if you find yourselves in a hall watching it.
The Secret Life of Pets 2 picks up after the events of the original – and of course you need to watch the first film to be able to follow this one. The lapdog Max (Patton Oswalt) and his shaggy buddy Duke’s (Eric Stonestreet) owner shifts her attention from her pets due to the birth of her child. Max feels a little left out and jealous because of the new addition to the family, but begins to become protective of the child. The family heads out for a picnic at a farm and Max is introduced to the animals over there, who are way more ferocious than what he deals with back home.
Naturally there isn’t nearly enough meat to make a feature length film so writer Brian Lynch fills up the gaps with some side characters that we saw in the previous film – like Gidget (Jenny Slate) who somehow loses an item Max entrusts her with and for some reason has to learn to deal with cats, or Snowball (Kevin Hart) who is no longer an irate rabbit but a domesticated bunny who thinks he’s a superhero because his owner dresses him up in a costume. These side missions only exist to add a comedic layer to the film that misses more than hits, but it’s all executed so tightly there’s never a dull moment in the film. And keeping the runtime to an hour and 20 minutes is a surefire way of keeping younger audiences invested in the fireworks on screen and ensuring home video repeat value.
This is, however, a little less ‘manic’ than the previous film, which in fact enhances the experience because you have time to care about the characters rather than be distracted by artificial means as if in a cheap carnival ride. The film luckily doesn’t try too hard in cramming in a social message, even if the ultimate takeaway is actually ham-fisted and something children will never latch onto anyway. The sitcom level conflicts between the characters don’t exactly inspire confidence although the terrific cast (sans Louis CK who was given the boot after being #MeToo’d) does manage you keep things bouncy and funny.
Don’t expect much and you’ll be rewarded with the simple pleasures of colourful animation and guffaw inducing asinine jokes that stick firmly in the B-list of animated films. There is no doubt that this sequel feels unnecessary, but as the first film proved, it doesn’t always take Pixar or Disney level artistry to put butts in the theatre seats when you could deliver the simple joys of poopy jokes. There may never be a third film considering the low buzz of this one, if you have nothing else to do this weekend you can do much worse than taking your kids out to see this one.
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