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The Secret Life of Pets 2 Review: The Sequel Brings Nothing New to the Franchise

Photo Courtesy Illumination Entertainment

Written by Tom Moore

Ah, Illumination Entertainment. The creator of the Minions, those animated remakes of Dr. Seuss classics, and plenty of other animated hits. They’re a studio that’s truly captured viewers’ attention and entertained plenty of children since their debut with Despicable Me in 2010. Whenever I’ve gone to see one of their films, I’ve always had the same reaction—I’ve hated them. Yeah, I have to come clean and say that Illumination has never impressed me with their films. There are always little glimmers of hope, but they’re never executed properly, so I’m left with a bitter taste in my mouth. Unfortunately, this trend hasn’t stopped with their newest release, The Secret Life of Pets 2, as it embodies most, if not all, the problems I face with Illumination.

Now, this is where I would generally tell you what the film is about, but it has such an unfocused plot that I’m not really sure where start. I guess the central plot picks up with Max (Patton Oswalt) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet) as they are introduced to the newest member of their family after their owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) has a baby, Liam (Henry Lynch).

Because of the dangerous NYC environment, Max constantly worries for Liam’s safety and is worried that something bad will happen if he’s not there. Now, with the help of an older dog, named Rooster (Harrison Ford), Max must find strength or bravery or something to get over his stress about keeping Liam safe. Oh, there are also two other side plots thrown in about Snowball (Kevin Hart) saving, what I think, is a snow leopard and Gidget (Jenny Slate) fending off a bunch of cats.

Ever since I watched the original film, I thought that The Secret Life of Pets would’ve been better as an anthology film. Giving each character a section with small intertwining moments would give them more time to develop and it would actually fit with the way both films are marketed. I feel even surer of this after The Secret Life of Pets 2 as the side plots with Snowball and Gidget are completely under-developed and just pad the runtime. The way the film rotates between the three plots completely works against it, as there’s too much of a break from Snowball and Gidget’s sections that when the film cuts back to them, I almost forgot they were in the film. Their sections are wrapped up so quickly as well that they leave little to no impact at all.

Because of the rotating stories, Max’s story is constantly undermined and struggles to make an impact. While certain sections of Max’s story are fun, with him interacting with other animals at a pet therapist and some of the farm stuff with Ford’s Rooster, his story comes off as a kind of pointless. The film tries to establish this heavily old-school masculine way of becoming brave and being a protector that’s just kind of odd and there isn’t enough time given to it to make anything of it. There’s nothing to take away other than that Ford’s voice acting is so charming and great that he pretty much steals the show.

Even the humor is kind of cheap and pretty much just plays off pet nostalgia and easy jokes. While I’ve owned many pets in my life and laughed at plenty of cat videos, The Secret Life of Pets 2 solely plays on this nostalgia and it comes off as a cheap way to get laughs. I get that the concept of the series is to show things pets do when people aren’t around, but it’s hard to give credit to a film that has jokes and humor that can be easily found with some quick YouTube searches.

It’s honestly sad because I can see the talent that’s behind Illumination’s work and there are even some things about this sequel that are good. The animation is still nice, bright, and vivid with great character designs that are brought out even further by a great voice cast. I like the idea of the film touching on the connections between kids and pets, even if it eventually feels like a side note of the film. Even, as said before, the film can be funny when it relies more on dialogue for humor and the scene with Max in the waiting area for the pet therapist is pretty funny.

Look, if you’re anxiously wondering if The Secret Life of Pets 2 has enough fun pet moments and fun sequences for you, or your children, to enjoy, then stop worrying: the film has all of that in spades. For me, though, I just can’t help finding myself disappointed by films like this–especially sequels–that offer easy jokes, nothing special or new, and a story that feels pointless. For a series that desires to touch on the unconditional love and connection between people and their pets, this sequel comes off as forced.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 opens in theaters nationwide on June 7.

Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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