By Trina Boice
Republished with permission from The Movie Review Mom.
WHAT’S THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 ABOUT?
This doggone sequel is totally adorable and even better than the first in many ways. Max the dog loves the new baby his owners just had and finds it difficult to cope with the dangerous world that threatens his new best friend. Max’s other friends also learn lessons of courage on their own adventures.
There are many of your favorite characters from the first The Secret Life of Pets but plenty of new ones to add to the fun. This is Illumination’s first sequel since the Despicable Me franchise. You don’t really need to have seen the first movie to understand this one at all.
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: B)
It’s going to be impossible to write this movie review without using the words “cute” and adorable” a thousand times. This family-friendly film is so colorful with so many cute details and filled with so many ridiculous moments and funny sequences that you will laugh out loud.
The voices of the entertaining characters are brought to us by the talented cast: Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Harrison Ford, Patton Oswolt, Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate, Lake Bell, Hannibal Buress, Nick Kroll, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Pete Holmes, Garth Jennings, Bobby Moynihan, and more. Patton Oswalt has a complete potty mouth in his stand-up comedy routines, but his voice is perfect for an animated dog. He replaced Louis C. K. from the first The Secret Life of Pets.
Jenny Slate has the perfect voice for animation too. Her character, Gigi, is totally cute. I mean, seriously, so cute. Harrison Ford! What a fun surprise. This is his first animated film. Another character in the movie is New York City itself. It looks almost magical and like a great place to live and have an adventure.
Unfortunately, there isn’t really a cohesive plot like in the first The Secret Life of Pets. This film features more of a collection of 3 different adventures the animals go on. What they have in common are that the pets are friends and know each other, as well as the theme of developing courage in each story. There is a lot of chaotic, frenzied action which may tire parents out at times. You might want to sit in a quiet room for a while after listening to Kevin Hart for an hour and a half. Very young children might be confused when the stories flip in and out.
IS THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 OKAY FOR KIDS? (PG)
First of all, your kids will want a pet after seeing this movie! Be prepared. You might need to explain to young kids what catnip is and why it works the way it does on cats because there is a scene where a cat gets “high.” Some animal cruelty is portrayed by an evil circus man. The film doesn’t necessarily preach an anti-circus message, but your kids might get that impression. A woman intentionally hits a man with her car.
DOES IT HAVE ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
Developing courage is the strongest theme in the movie. Rooster (voiced by Harrison Ford) explains, “The first step to not being afraid is acting like you’re not afraid.” Later, Max the dog (Patton Oswolt) learns, “You never know what life is going to throw at you and you have two choices: run from it or run at it.” When we want to sit and get comfortable, we stop learning and growing. It takes great courage to step across our own growth edge each day.
Max also learns, “Everything changes. Nothing stays the same for long.” Both of those are important lessons for children and adults to learn. Rather than complain about challenges or be afraid of them, we should embrace them as learning opportunities and accept them as the great adventures they are. The Secret Life of Pets 2 is a feel-good movie that demonstrates impressive character arcs for pets. Hopefully, the same growth can be said of us at the end of our lives!