I wouldn’t say that The Secret Life of Pets 2 is a complete mess, but you’ll definitely have to sit through the first hour before the film begins to sort itself out.
Directed by Chris Renaud, The Secret Life of Pets 2 acts as the sequel to its delightful 2016 predecessor—an animated film about what the pets of Manhattan get up to while their owners are at work. While the first film manages to juggle an almost immeasurable amount of characters whilst keeping a relatively engaging storyline, this second chapter puts this to test, by seeing how many more characters they can include—completely neglecting the storyline until the very end.
Not everybody can be a main character, but I guess the scriptwriters behind The Secret Life of Pets 2 never received the memo. In this second film, Max (Patton Oswalt) goes to the farm, Snowball (Kevin Hart) pretends to save the day, Gidget (Jenny Slate) becomes ruler of cats and Chloe (Lake Bell) gets high. While it was easy to pinpoint Max as the main character of the first film, it’s difficult to appreciate this film’s entirety when none of the character’s adventures seem to weave together to form a coherent entity.
While the continuation doesn’t particularly designate Max as the main character anymore, his moments on screen are primarily the only times when the storyline progresses. In the first instalment, we watched as Max grew accustomed to his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) adopting another dog, Duke (Eric Stonestreet). In the sequel, Katie finds love, gets married and has her first-born son—the very adorable Liam—and Max immediately falls in love with the little boy. However, as Max’s affection and protectiveness towards Liam grows, so does his anxiety about the world that Liam has to face.
The first 20 minutes of the animated film appear to be a compilation of all The Secret Life of Pets 2 trailers strung together, which would explain why it does prompt viewers to let out an occasional chuckle, but ultimately, it doesn’t really serve a purpose for the film’s plot. While it does begin to feel like you’re just watching the cheeky pets run amuck on screen (before the film’s direction slowly sorts itself out), it still manages to provide a solid, though abrupt, ending—with a very respectable and hard-hitting life lesson.
Change is inevitable, and so is the fact that you need to be assertive when you’re faced with making choices. It’s just unfortunate that the film sacrifices the viewer’s attention to eventually deliver this message.
The Secret Life of Pets 2 is one of those movies that outright rejects the KISS (keep it simple) principle—fundamentally fueling fans with the impression that this should really be the final instalment for the franchise.
The Secret Life of Pets 2 is showing in cinemas this Thursday; while you’re snaffling up some salted popcorn, what are your pets getting up to?