Adventure Animation

Review: ‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’ has Story and Cuteness to Spare

June 7, 2019Ben MK

If you're a parent of young children, then you're no doubt familiar with the animated shenanigans of villain-turned-do-gooder Gru and his diminutive, monosyllabic, yellow henchmen. Now, from the same studio that brought us Despicable Me and Minions comes your kids' newest obsession — The Secret Life of Pets 2.

In this charming followup to 2016's The Secret Life of Pets, we rejoin Jack Russell Terrier Max (Patton Oswalt) and his shaggy housemate Duke (Eric Stonestreet), as they and their (mostly) furry friends (Lake Bell, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan and Dana Carvey) embark on an adventure spurred by the latest milestones in the life of their owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper), who has fallen in love, gotten married and given birth to a bouncing baby boy named Liam. And while it took Max and Duke some time to get used to the new arrival, the trio are now inseparable, with Max being especially over-protective of Liam and ever-vigilant for his safety.

When Katie and her husband Chuck (Pete Holmes) take Liam, Max and Duke for a vacation at Chuck's uncle's farm, however, Max meets Rooster (Harrison Ford), an old Welsh Sheepdog with more wisdom to dispense than just how to wrangle cattle and sheep. Meanwhile, back in New York City, pet rabbit Snowball (Kevin Hart) and his superhero alter ego Captain Snowball are recruited by a Shih Tzu named Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) to help rescue a tiger from the clutches of a slimy circus owner (Nick Kroll), while Pomeranian Gidget (Jenny Slate) must figure out a way to recover Max's beloved squeeze toy, Busy Bee, after it's left in her care and ends up in the apartment of an elderly neighbor with a clowder of crazed cats.

With three separate plotlines that conveniently converge in the film's final act, The Secret Life of Pets 2 is a sequel that packs a lot of bang for your moviegoing dollar into its relatively brisk running time. Thankfully, returning director Chris Renaud, co-director Jonathan del Val and returning writer Brian Lynch manage to keep the jokes coming while keeping the story flowing at a nice pace, even as they introduce a pack of bloodthirsty wolves, an unhinged turkey, and a litter of puppies-in-training into the mix.

It all adds up to a fun time for both kids and grown-ups alike. And even though there's ultimately no reason for The Secret Life of Pets 2 to exist, it's hard to fault the filmmakers too much for wanting to bring these characters back for another go-round. After all, children and animals may prove to be a challenge to work with in real life; but in animated form, they're as good a pairing as any to build a family-friendly movie franchise around.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 releases June 7th, 2019 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG for some action and rude humor. Its runtime is 1 hr. 26 min.

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