I had an epiphany that either I’m getting old or some movies are completely forgettable. Recently I watched London Has Fallen and at the beginning of the 3rd act when I realized that I had already seen the film. I bring this up because as I was sitting in the theatre watching the opening of The Secret Life of Pets 2 I remembered, “Oh yeah, I did see the first film!” I couldn’t remember a single plot point from the movie, but I remembered the characters. This got me to wondering if I couldn’t remember the first film was I going to enjoy the sequel?
Snowball: I’m gonna be the first rabbit with washboard glutes.
While Max (Patton Oswalt) has adjusted to Duke (Eric Stonestreet) he begins to develop a new problem. After years of dislike towards children, his owner gets married and has a child named Liam. As Liam grows Max begins to love and become overly protective of Liam to the point where his paranoia has forced Max to wear the cone of shame to avoid his new itching tic. With the family taking a trip to the country Max is tossed out of his comfort zone and comes face to face with Rooster (Harrison Ford) a gruff herding dog who forges an unlikely friendship with Max.
Our second story involves Gidget (Jenny Slate) having to rescue Max’s favorite toy he entrusted to her while he’s on vacation. This involves her breaking into a crazy cat lady’s home. Under the tutelage of Chloe (Lake Bell), Gidget disguises herself as a cat in order to undertake this mission. Finally, Snowball (Kevin Hart) now dressed as superhero CAPTAIN Snowball is tasked to help Daisy (Tiffany Haddisch) rescue an abused white tiger escape from a traveling circus.
Rooster: Okay. Moment’s over.
All three of these plots converge and tie up in the span of 86 minutes. Impressive, but not all of the plots are exactly fleshed out. The funny thing is while the Max and Snowball plots are far more serious stories I personally enjoyed Gidget’s plot. Seeing Chloe teaching Gidget how to be a cat and infiltrating the cat lady apartment was genuinely funny. Max and Snowball’s (especially Max’s) plots were kind of redundant and have been executed better in previous kid’s films.
The film’s biggest strength is, of course, the voice cast. Patton Oswalt has taken over the role of Max from Louis C.K. and personally, I don’t think it’s all that big a deal. Oswalt does a fine job giving Max a more worried and less curmudgeonly personality. So maybe that’s the reason Harrison Ford (everyone’s favorite celebrity curmudgeon) was cast as Rooster. And I hate to say it, but he feels like the weakest of the voice talent. Like them or hate them Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish have strong personalities that work well in animated form. When I first heard Rooster speak I wondered, “Why does Bryan Cranston sound so haggard?”
For me, the two biggest draws to the film are Lake Bell and Jenny Slate returning as Chloe and Gidget. Bell infuses the perfect amount of indifference and mild annoyance in her tubby tabby performance. I will admit I am a huge fan of Slate as she has always been a great voice actress. Her unique voice and zany energy are perfect for Gidget, and when you have her and Bell in the same scene it offers up some of the film’s funnier moments. It was nice hearing Dana Carvey, Nick Kroll, Hannibal Buress, and Bobby Moynihan lend their respective voice talents to the film even if they don’t get much to do.
Max: Gotta say, not a big fan of the farm.
While The Secret Life of Pets 2 may not be an amazing kid’s film it does at the very least have some entertaining moments. Seeing it with a friend and her son I was reminded that sometimes a kid’s film has to only entertain the kids in the audience. To which the film accomplishes that goal. And while I have seen better-animated films this year (The LEGO Movie: Part 2, Missing Link) I have also seen worse (Wonder Park). Between the solid cast, top-notch animation, and mercifully short runtime it’s adequate and inoffensive entertainment.
Overall 3 out of 5.