The Secret Life of Pets 2

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

The Secret Life of Pets 2
dir Chris Renaud
scr Brian Lynch
prd Janet Healy, Christopher Meledandri
voices Patton Oswalt, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Harrison Ford, Jenny Slate, Tiffany Haddish, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Nick Kroll, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Ellie Kemper
release UK 24.May.19,
US 31.May.19
19/US Universal 1h26

oswalt stonestreet hart
See also:
The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

snowball, daisy and pops
Somehow, the filmmakers have actually increased the manic sense of pacing in this sequel, again sacrificing properly developed characters and storylines in favour of crazy action and comedy. It's watchable, animated with a lot of colourful energy, and often very funny, but it would have been even better if they stopped occasionally to let things to settle in and grab hold of the audience.
Not that their master (Kemper) has a toddler, dogs Max and Duke (Oswalt and Stonestreet) have a whole new set of joys and worries. Their bigger challenge is being taken to a country farm for the weekend, where they encounter top dog Rooster (Ford), and Max needs to learn to control his anxiety. Meanwhile in Manhattan, bunny Snowball (Hart) is in superhero mode when he accompanies new friend Daisy (Haddish) to rescue a circus tiger (Kroll). And pampered pooch Gidget (Slate) needs lessons in cattiness from the lazy Chloe (Bell) to rescue a lost toy.
The antagonist is a personality-free pantomime villain who cruelly mistreats animals, including his hench-wolves. This provides several loudly violent action set-pieces, including the massive climax on a train, as the three plot threads randomly converge. By this time, audience members of all ages have been worn out by the choppy cutting between story strands. At least each features terrific sequences: the clifftop rescue of a lost sheep, the infiltration of a cat lady's insane flat, trying to hide a tiger in a puppy school run by Pops (Carvey).

Only Max has a story arc, which leaves the other pets feeling somewhat unnecessary, even if they're engaging. The voice work is excellent, of course, feeding the characters rather than drawing attention to the stars. Oswalt gives some nice angles to Max along the way, and Ford is surprisingly good as the effortlessly cool German shepherd. But it feels like a lot more could have been made of Haddish, especially in her interaction with Hart.

The filmmakers have fun with these furry heroes, playing on dog and cat tropes. The animation is vivid and busy, populated by animals who look like cuddly toys your children will be desperate to own. But they're merely cute, without much in the way of attitude or emotions, so they never become terribly beloved for who they are. Perhaps if they make a third film, they could focus on making these critters at least as memorable as the hilarious YouTube pet clips in the closing credits.

cert u themes, violence 19.May.19

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© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall