The Secret Life of Pets 2 review
Having just seen The Secret Life of Pets 2, it made me realize just how many family movies (live action and animated) really like to focus on two things: animals and seeing things from other perspectives. I like making this connection back to Disney whose entertainment philosophy had started from humanizing animals. Mickey Mouse is a walking, talking mouse. Donald Duck is a walking, talking Duck. You know what I'm getting at. Animation gives life to these characters who are now just as much people as we are, even though we know their not real. Now what about the other perspective thing?
This also goes back to Disney, though lets use Pixar as an example. We've seen the world from toys, bugs, fish, robots, and even monsters eyes. The animator's hand has allowed to take these different things to show how the world works from their perspective. Because of this, many animation studios have done the same thing. In fact, when I saw the original The Secret Life of Pets, I accused it of having the same plot as Toy Story, but with not as interesting story. Can the sequel break out of that and provide something original?
Sometime after the first movie, Max (played by Patton Oswalt) and Duke (played by Eric Stonestreet) have settled as friends and continue to serve their master Katie (played by Ellie Kemper). But things change when she not only marries, but has a child named Liam. The dogs end up liking Liam and do their best as a dog can. In fact, Max almost sees Liam as a surrogate son and starts to aquire anxiety from all the things that could go wrong. This results in a vet visit that puts Max in a cone. Even with that, he still suffers anxiety, so the family takes a vacation out to the country to get away from the city.
At the same time, Gidget (played by Jenny Slate) is tasked with watching Max's "Busy Bee" toy while he's away. While doing so, she loses it in a cat lady's apartment. She gets help fro another cat Chloe to act more feline. Also at the same time, the white rabbit from the last movie Snowball (played by Kevin Hart) tries to be a superhero and gets his chance when a Shih Tzu Daisy (played by Tiffany Haddish) needs him. With all this going on in the city, Max may finally get an answer to his problems by a tough sheepdog Rooster (played by Harrison Ford).
As I said, I found the first The Secret Life of Pets unoriginal, but inoffensive. Families could watch it fine and kids would probably like it. The sequel is more of the same…even though I may have liked this a little more. It has nothing to do with its jokes and characters, but rather how things are set up. The first movie had a plot of just getting home. Here, it's more of a series of events that play out until everyone comes together towards the end.
In a way, I have to give them credit for trying to create something that's more of a cartoon animal slice of life. Does it all work? I don't know if I can say that. Stuff with Gidget and Snowball feel like material that was originally created for a short rather then a side plot for a movie. It's obvious as none of the other characters really communicate about their situations to each other. The only one that does connect a little is Max's problem.
It's not that all the actors are not trying. In fact, I'll go as far to say that even though Patton Oswalt doesn’t add a lot to Max's character, I kind of like him better here then when Louis C.K. voiced him. I even think parents may be able to relate more, as I know plenty that worry about their child's well being without realizing they need to let the kids learn for themselves every now and then. Had the movie been more about the connection with Max, Duke, and the child, I may have gone as far to recommend it. Otherwise, it's something that while a lot of kids will want to watch, I just don't see much of a reason to take them to the theater to do so.
I'll give this three Shih Tzus out of three. The Secret Life of Pets series is something that I doubt will hold much place in terms of grand animation or great comedy, but is more specifically children's entertainment. I'd give it a rental only if the kids really want to watch it. Otherwise, let the lying dog sleep.