MOVIE REVIEW: The Secret Life of Pets 2

written by David Steffen

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is a 2019 computer-animated children’s comedy by Universal Pictures and Illumination, the sequel to the first movie from 2016 (which was reviewed here). As with the prior film, the cast of the film are pets living in a New York City apartment building, who venture out into the city to have adventures, unbeknownst to their owners.

This one is about… well, honestly that’s hard to pin down in a quick synopsis, because the cast of characters are plit from each other and having separate adventures for most of the movie. Max (Patton Oswalt, rather than the original actor Louis CK) and his newer dog family member Duke (Eric Stonestreet) are now used to each other, but their life is thrown into turmoil when their owner Katy (Ellie Kemper) gets married and has a baby, Liam (Henry Lynch). Max and Duke are apprehensive about the new member of the family at first, but as the child grows Max in particular grows a very close bond with him . When they take a family trip to relatives in the country, Max has his hands full trying to keep the kid safe in a new environment. Meanwhile, Gidget (Jenny Slate) back at home has been tasked with protecting Max’s favorite toy, and soon has to face a cat lady’s mob of semi-feral cats. And a new cast member, a Shih Tzu named Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) enlists the help of the rabbit Snowball (Kevin Hart), in helping rescue a captive tiger from a traveling circus.

As the synopsis might suggest, this movie is very scattered, which makes it hard to have a coherent read on the thing as a whole, and as a whole it was hard to really care about the stakes. And, the writing is not as good as the first one–the first one’s plot was not particularly good either, but there was better lines that were probably from standup comic. Overall it was pretty forgettable, there are much better kids movies

MOVIE REVIEW: The Secret Life of Pets

written by David Steffen

The Secret Life of Pets is an Illumination Entertainment animated adventure film about dogs and cats and other pets getting into adventures in New York City.  What do your pets do when you’re away at work every day?  What you probably didn’t say is that all the pets in your apartment building sneak out of their apartments and meet up with the other pets in the building to hang out.  But, apparently that’s what they do.

Max, a Jack Russell terrier voiced by Louis CK, is used to it being just him and his owner Katie at night.  And during the day, he just wants to wait loyally for her, despite his Pomeranian friend Gidget (voiced by Jenny Slate) and other pets in the building getting together. One day Katie brings home a big mutt named Duke (voiced by Eric Stonestreet) and they become unwilling roommates, leaving Max jealous because his time with Katie now has to be shared.  He tries to abandon Duke in an alley, but a gang of alley cats steal their collars and leave them for Animal Control.  Gidget, realizing her friend is missing, gets the pets of the building together to find Max.

The high point of the movie is that there are some particularly good comedy lines, that feel almost like they were prepared for stand-up comedy–makes me wonder if the comedian voice actors wrote some of the lines themselves.

My favorite character in the movie is Snowball, an adorable and fluffy and psychotic white bunny rabbit that leads a violent resistance of abandoned pets that lives in the sewers.

If you’re big on plots, this movie is very light on that aspect.  It is not so much a plot as a random series of events that coincidentally leads to a conclusion by always conveniently putting the solution to a problem in the same place as the problem.

This is a fun movie with good funny writing and lots of great voice talent.  Fun for adults and kids alike.  There are some laugh out loud moments and really good comedy lines in there, delivered well.  It’s not what you’d call a deep movie, it’s nothing that will change your life forever, but it’s fun and there is plenty of spectacle to keep you busy.  My kid loves it so I’ve seen it at least a dozen times, and it’s not the worst movie to see a bunch of times (though I’d rather watch Zootopia, for instance).