No, seriously. Why? What is the reason for this movie to exist? The easy answer is “because the first film was a breakout hit and made over $875 million worldwide”, but the lengthier answer is “Illumination is frighteningly good at creating franchises and the common person’s love of pets is cheap and easy to exploit to the hilt”. That’s why we as a society have been cursed with the existence of The Secret Life of Pets 2, a soulless piece of corporate branding; an investment in hollow family-friendly entertainment. Pray to God for mercy!
The Secret Life of Pets 2 picks up right where the first film left off. Max, a Jack Russell Terrier (now played by Patton Oswalt, following Louis C.K.’s fall from grace) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a Newfoundland mix; who are happily living together with their owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) in New York City, until she marries Chuck (Pete Holmes) and has a child with him; a baby boy named Liam. Max suddenly becomes very anxious and overprotective of the infant, and constantly worries about keeping him safe in the big city. However, a road trip to the countryside and a new friend in the form of a Welsh Sheepdog named Rooster (Harrison Ford, bored out of his mind) may be just what he needs to gain some confidence…
Meanwhile, back in New York City, Snowball the rabbit (Kevin Hart) has become well adjusted to life with humans, and has gained a reputation as a superhero to pets, though he hasn’t gone on any real missions. Until Daisy the Shih Tzu (Tiffany Haddish) comes along, begging him to help her free a rare white tiger from the grips of an evil circus master. While that’s going on, Gidget the Pomeranian (Jenny Slate) loses Max’s favorite toy to an apartment full of deranged cats, and swears to get it back before he returns from the roadtrip. But in order to sneak in, she needs to learn how to be a cat, and only Chloe the tabby cat (Lake Bell) can show her the ways of the feline.
Does this all sound a little confusing and complicated to you? Trust me, it is. The scattershot nature of the film comes across like three episodes of a television show that only manage to cross over for the inane third act, which limps along to the finish line. It aims to balance all these story lines like a Robert Altman film. The result is what would happen if you hit Robert Altman over the head with a sledgehammer and then asked him to direct Short Cuts. There’s far too many characters in this overstuffed slog, and though the film promises to be a sweet and brief 86 minutes breeze, it feels thrice as long. It’s brutal to sit through, and by the end of the film, you’ll have pain in your left arm from checking your watch every ten seconds.
In regards to the quality of the animation, there’s not much to talk about here. It’s less impressive than Illumination’s last film, The Grinch, and arguably not even as good-looking as the first entry in this series. It’s not something I can speak to much, as animation isn’t my field of expertise, but the feeling like you’re watching a direct-to-DVD film in a multiplex can’t be a good thing. The humans are all vaguely unpleasant to look at, but at least their cleaned-up and gentrified New York City has some nice wide shots throughout. It’s passable yet forgettable.
There’s no point to this film. Perhaps that makes itself clear at the beginning, when it “Roman Holidays” an entire film’s worth of conflict just to get to the bullshit it presents as a story. Perhaps it’s in the middle of the film, when you realize thatall the trailers and television commercials showed you half the damn movie before you even got to the theatre. Or perhaps it’s at the very end, when Snowball raps “Panda” by Desiigner to a stuffed panda toy.
I have seen into the eyes of Death Himself, and they hold a terrifying image:
Kevin Hart as a rabbit playing cards, rapping “I got broads in Atlanta / twisting rope, drinking Fanta / credit cards and the scammers”.
The Secret Life Of Pets 2 is Now Playing Nationwide