The Secret Life Of Pets 2 is an example of a sequel that didn’t need to be made. The original film stands on its own and a great example of the irreverence that we’ve grown to expect from Illumination studios. The premise was strong, and the voices were perfectly cast. Even the narrative in the original was the perfect mix of sentiment and humor wrapped into a tight 90-minute release. Of course, Secret Life Of Pets did well at the box-office, which was a catalyst behind this follow-up. Sometimes, Hollywood needs to stop while they are ahead (easier said than done, I guess).
The best way to describe this sequel is odd. Secret Life Of Pets 2 has several unique storylines which if they had been developed would have resulted in a better overall product. Instead, what we have is these little offshoots during the film which seemingly never connect. Many of the pets from the original film are back. For starter, Terrier Max (Patton Oswalt) is coping with some significant life changes. His owner (Ellie Kemper) is now married and has a toddler, Liam. Max is so worried about protecting the boy that he develops a nervous tic. On a family trip to a farm, Max and mutt Duke (Eric Stonestreet) meet a veteran farm dog Rooster (Harrison Ford) who pushes Max to ditch his neuroses. While they are away Gidget (a Pomeranian voiced by Jenny Slate) tries to rescue Max’s favorite toy from a cat-packed apartment with help from her feline friend, Chloe (Lake Bell). On top of all this, Snowball (a rabbit voiced by Kevin Hart) is starting to believe he’s genuinely a superhero who comes to the aide of Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) who has a secret mission for him.
Had the sequel focused exclusively on developing the storyline involving the pets adjusting to children, that would have lead to a promising final product. Instead, these storylines don’t connect (I mean they kind of force the issue at the end of the film, but it just felt odd). What I didn’t get is why the focus of the film seemingly was more on Kevin Hart’s character rather than Oswalt’s character (the lead in the original movie). Part of what made the original film work is that we got Snowball in tiny chunks. In the sequel, large portions are dominated by a supporting actor. If I were to focus on one aspect of the film which worked, it was casting Harrison Ford. I’m not sure why he hasn’t done more voice work.
Overall, The Secret Life Of Pets 2 will leave audiences with a sense of deja vu. We have seen this film already except when it was initially crafted there was an attention to detail and quality which is absent in the sequel.