Originally posted on Film Inquiry.
Recently released The Secret Life Of Pets 2 (2019) reunites us with Max (Patton Oswalt), Duke (Eric Stonestreet), and their owner Katie (Ellie Kemper). The original instalment of the franchise gained such success, as the sixth-highest earning film of 2016, that we are here given another enjoyable insight into the unseen adventures of a group of pets in Manhattan and beyond.
Escape to the Country
After Universal rightfully dropped Louis C.K. from the role of main character in 2017, Patton Oswalt was brought in as his replacement for the sequel to voice Max. The film follows him as he tries to cope with the new additions to his family in the shapes of Katie’s husband and their baby Liam. His extreme anxiety and nervous itching are cause for concern for his owners, and it’s not until Max is taken to a vet and given a cone around his neck, that he realises the stress he feels for Liam’s safety.
As Max struggles to adjust to the new family dynamics, they take a trip to the countryside where they meet a Welsh Sheepdog named Rooster (Harrison Ford), who mentors Max and helps him overcome his anxiety. They look out for the farm’s sheep, go on a rescue mission, and Rooster coaches his trainee in ways to overcome his fears and anxiety, giving him a newfound self-confidence in time to return to the bustling and dangerous city. This smaller story arc, where Max learns more about himself and the world around him, opens up the film for its younger audiences who will also be starting to learn how to overcome their own fears while navigating the world around them.
Pets and the City
Meanwhile, back at their building in New York, Snowball (Kevin Hart) takes on the identity of superhero “Captain Snowball” and aims to help rescue a tiger from captivity, and Gidget (Jenny Slate) the Pomeranian, impersonates a cat with the help of feline friend Chloe (Lake Bell). She accidentally loses Max’s favourite toy in an apartment filled with cats and so takes on the new identity for a rescue mission. Unwittingly she becomes the cats’ new leader, and while Gidget has become a wolf in sheep’s clothing among the cats, the irony is that her other half Max is literally herding sheep with his new pal Rooster back on the farm.
When a circus owner named Sergei (Nick Kroll) threatens the tranquility of the pets’ lives, Max and the gang go on another rescue mission to save the day and the tiger, and Max uses the courage instilled in him by Rooster to thwart Sergei’s plans. In the end, the pets triumph over Sergei, and unbeknownst to their owners, the animals prevent the tiger from a life in the circus industry.
Visually the 3-D computer animation is a fun and playful addition to children-orientated cinema. Directed by Chris Renaud, who also had central creative roles in Doctor Seuss’ The Lorax (2012), the Despicable Me trilogy (2010, 2013, 2017), and its 2015 spin-off film Minions, the animation in The Secret Life of Pets franchise continues in a similar vein to his previous works at Illumination Entertainment.
The Secret Life of Pets 2: Conclusion
While the film is action-packed and provides quite a few laughs in its 1 hour 26 minute runtime, it seems to cram in a multitude of storylines and characters, potentially rushing through the plot’s full comedic and more developed potential. However, since its primary target audiences are the youngest of cinema-goers, it is likely the filmmakers were more interested in creating fast-paced and entertaining content, with some inspiring moments through Max’s determination to overcome his anxiety and the animals defeating a circus ringmaster.
Continuing on from where the 2016 film left off, the sequel provides more entertaining insights into the lives of our fluffy companions, while paving the way for the possibility of a third installment in the franchise.