There has been a growing trend in Hollywood where they just fall back on children’s movies for franchise material when they want to make a quick buck. That is what happened with this sequel. This method works but that does not mean that we want to see the same stuff repeatedly. The Secret Life of Pets 2 did not learn anything from the predecessor and it is just bad storytelling that kills it this time.
In fact, they rather doubled down on their faults. The story picks up not long after the events of the first movie with the characters having to deal with changes in life. Max and Duke live comfortably with some parenting to do for the human they live with. Snowball is doing some superhero work and Gidget babysits Max’s preferred squeaky toy.
They introduce some new faces. There is an old dog voiced by Harrison Ford who is trying to teach Max new tricks and a new dog voiced by Tiffany Haddish who is looking to involve the old group in a caper that involves a smuggled tiger.
If you wanted a story that would grab your attention, this is not your movie. There are way too many characters with personal agendas for you to focus on the big picture. It feels like a scrapbook with no cohesion. There are three different stories being told simultaneously.
If these stories had come together at the end, most of us who have seen this sequel would have been okay with it but the constant shifting from one plot to another will not give you the time to do that.
The storytelling may have failed but the performances are good. Patton Oswalt as Max in the place of Louis C.K. improves the character. His vocals are perfect for the amped-up terrier. He riffs so well with the cast.
Harrison Ford voices Rooster in a supporting role and he managed to make an impression. He gets some laughs out of the audience and helps Max create a tougher persona.
Aside from these few good choices, there are too many cast members and too many characters for anyone to focus. It’s like watching a British movie where there are like 8 lead characters with weird names displayed at the beginning, with the expectation that you will remember all of them. At the end of it all, they tell a story that does not make it clear what it is they want the audience to learn. Children need something that they can grasp and remember and this movie does not provide that.
If you want to know what it feels like, for a child trying to extract a lesson from all this, picture yourself trying to read a fortune cookie from a moving bus.
It is actually ironic that they had a poster with a dog wearing a sign that says ‘don’t laugh.’ You will have a hard time finding something worth liking enough to evoke genuine soda-through-the-nose laughter.