The Secret Life of Pets 2 is the perfect sequel to the original film released in 2016. Under the direction of Chris Renaud and Jonathan Del Val, Pets 2 debuts new and engaging characters that add nuance and colorful personas that make for a very entertaining, kid-friendly animated film. With a stellar cast and a production team experienced in animation, Pets 2 gets it right once again. Not only is this film great for kids, it provides many positive anecdotes on parenting styles as well.
In Pets 2, we truly get a glimpse of the secret life of pets and a more in depth look inside of what makes them tick. The newest chapter of the franchise gives a thorough look at the emotional lives of the pets, the bonds that exist between them and the many life lessons that they learn along the way.
Terrier Max (Patton Oswalt) trying to cope with some major changes in his life with the new marriage of his owner (Ellie Kemper) and toddler Liam. While Duke (Eric Stonestreet) has taken on a more relaxed approach to being a pet parent to Liam, Max’s love for Liam is manifesting in the form of him exuding the characteristics of a helicopter parent. Max is overly cautious, worrisome and becomes very trepidatious about taking actions in his own life. On a family trip to a farm a series of unfortunate events and irreverent, hostile animals further increase Max’s anxiety, yet farm dog Rooster (Harrison Ford) provides mentorship to Max and encourages him to go of his fear, find his inner strength and give toddler Liam some space to live and learn. Ford as Rooster was excellently cast as his voice lends the perfect gravitas and weight to his character’s mentorship and fatherly-like interactions with Max.
This time around, the backstory of each of the lives of the pets is more layered and nuanced. Writer, Brian Lynch does a great job of adding more character development and unique plotlines for each of the characters in the screenplay. The lessons that each pet learn are more succinct and clear this time around, in comparison to the original animated film. It’s almost as if each showcases either a parenting style that we can all learn from, or through their different experiences with get to learn a few life lessons.
Teamwork, overcoming fear and perseverance are all great themes that run deep throughout the many plotlines within the film. While nonchalant cat Chloe (Lake Bell) indulges herself with the catnip and seems unbothered by the issues of her peer pets, Pomeranian Gidget (Jenny Slate) mistakenly loses Busy Bee, Max’s favorite toy. With some teamwork from Chloe, she infiltrates a cat lair and quite possibly saves the day. The storyline gets even richer with the over the top antics of Snowball (Kevin Hart) who’s life has changed quite a bit since we’ve last seen him. With the help of sassy and spunky newcomer Shih Tzu, Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) who needs help with a very dangerous mission, viewers will get a chance to see the benefits of summoning your inner superhero even when you don’t feel like one and not giving up.
While this may not be the most engaging movie for teenagers, there are many wonderful lessons and storylines within the film that both adults and young children can learn from. There is a scene where wolves appear, and it may be a bit frightening for younger viewers below the age of 6, but overall this film is very appropriate for kids 6 and up. What I loved most about this film is that the screenplay is written in such a way to highlight some of the characteristics that some adults and parents have and the effect of those actions on their children and pets without the film being too didactic. With humor, subtle anecdotes and some fun drama in between The Secret Life of Pets 2 gives us a real sneak peek into the fabulous world of pets.
Check out The Secret Life of Pets 2 in theaters on Friday, June 7th.