Max (Patton Oswalt) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet) alongside their friends Snowball (Kevin Hart), Gidget (Jenny Slate), Chloe (Lake Bell) and more, embark on further adventures. Max and Duke come up against major changes in their home when owner Katie (Elli Kemper) gets married and has a kid. Meanwhile, Snowball embarks on a superhero mission when Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) asks him to help her free a white tiger from a circus.
This reviewer readily admits, from the outset, that she did not care for the first ‘Secret Life of Pets’ movie. The animated feature relied entirely on the cute, funny and silly things that animals do while putting the bare minimum of effort into characterisation or plot. Why not just watch animal videos on Youtube for an hour and a half (and indeed ‘Secret Life 2’ actually draws attention to this alternative in the closing credits)? In any case, what you have in the sequel is more lazy writing. In fact, they’ve even abandoned the idea of ‘secret things that animals do at home while their owners are away’ – rendering the title somewhat pointless.
This time around, it goes for the obvious plot of what happens when a dog’s owner gets married and has children – a life transition explored far more sharply in the likes of ‘Lady & the Tramp’ and ‘101 Dalmatians’ as well as the poignant Pixar short ‘Feast’. Of course pet owners will love seeing the animated dogs showing their caring, protective nature, and warmly laugh at the excitement of the dogs going in the car, and the cat waking her owner up only to cough up a hairball onto her. There’s a bit where Gidget uses the dishwasher as a spa and one hopes that children in the audience don’t start practising that with their own dogs… Oh and apparently old ladies really do run people over on purpose. And that’s really funny.
Snowball proved a favourite in the previous movie and Kevin Hart fans should enjoy him playing superhero as well as fluffy bunny in this one. The best character is still Chloe the cat. Other perks include the fact that Harrison Ford’s character Rooster is exactly the way you’d picture Harrison Ford the dog to be – abrasive, courageous, and grumpy. But really they’ve already shown us the best scenes – Max going to the vet, Gidget learning how to be a cat – in the trailers.
Fans of the first film should be happy to see the return of old favourites (but seriously, are they old favourites? Does anyone actually remember the characters from the first film?), though some get more of a look in than others. Kids and families will go see ‘Secret Life 2’ regardless of what reviews say, but there’s genuinely no depth or endurance here.