Max (Patton Oswalt), Duke (Eric Stonestreet), and Snowball (Kevin Hart) return to the big screen in Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s The Secret Life of Pets 2. Picking up some time after the first film, Max and Duke’s owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper), is married and has a new baby boy. Max instantly declares himself the child’s protector. When the family decides to take a vacation to the country, Max meets alpha dog Rooster (Harrison Ford) who helps Max discover his inner courage. Meanwhile, Snowball (Kevin Hart) is enjoying life as a pet and using is overactive imagination to serve as a superhero for pets. When a Shih-Tzu named Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) seeks out his help, Snowball sets out to prove heroes come in all sizes.
The majority of the original cast returned including the obese cat Chloe (Lake Bell), the dachshund Buddy (Hannibal Buress), the Pomeranian Gidget (Jenny Slate), and my personal favorite, the wise basset hound Pops (Dana Carvey). Also returning is the director Chris Renaud and the screenwriter Brian Lynch.
Next to Pixar, I would have to say that Illumination is my favorite animation studio when it comes to animated films. However, outside of Snowball and some memorable one-liners by Duke, I did not care for the first Secret Life of Pets. Granted, there was a dark storyline that highlighted forgotten pets, but I found that film lacking.
Thankfully, the sequel corrected the mistakes of the first film and made for some decent family entertainment. Director Chris Renaud, who previously helmed four Illumination features, still has a great eye for animation. The city of New York looked great, as did the countryside where Max spends the majority of his time. Brian Lynch made the wise choice to separate the characters, thereby creating three separate storylines that successfully came together in the finale. It also gave our returning characters a chance to interact with the new characters.
The interaction between the old characters and their new counterparts were funny and sometimes heartfelt.Max and Rooster interacts in a mentor relationship. Snowball and Daisy acts as crime solving duo, and Gidget gets to interact with some new cat characters. I always enjoy when a new character is introduced in a sequel that can easily interact with existing ones.
I would have to say, once again, my favorite character was Kevin Hart as Snowball. Hart’s comedic timing is still a natural choice for voiceover work. Some of the film’s best moments involve Snowball’s dialogue with Daisy. The rest of the cast are also serviceable, however I do wish Duke had a bigger part. Duke’s brief storyline is one of the highlights of the film. Outside of Snowball, the one character most deserving off a spinoff is Duke. Without going into spoilers, when you see the film you will see why.
Similar to Pixar’s Toy Story franchise, The Secret Life of Pets 2 primarily works because no matter how old you are, we will always wonder: what do our toys and pets do when they’re alone? With a quick runtime, meta references for adults, and poop jokes for kids, The Secret Life Of Pets 2 will tide over families until the arrival of one of the summer’s big family films (the one involving toys).
The Secret Life of Pets 2 opens on June 7th.
Final Grade: B-