THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 gets 3/10 Nothing but pet peeves

Directed by Chris Renaud

Starring Patton Oswalt, Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate, Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, Harrison Ford


The premise of The Secret Life of Pets 2 is simple enough – it’s Toy Story, but with pets… just far less funny or enjoyable. Most of this new animation film from Illumination Studios (the makers of Minions) is downright obnoxious, thanks to plenty of obnoxious humour, and even more obnoxious voice acting. It’s a film only a domestic animal could enjoy.

At least it sticks true to its title, showcasing the lives of pets living in New York apartments. Jack Russell Terrier Max (Patton Oswalt) and Newfoundland Duke (Eric Stonestreet) are taken along with the family to the outer-state farm, where they have to learn to live less domesticated existences, helped reluctantly by the sheepdog Rooster (Harrison Ford). Meanwhile, Max’s Pomeranian girlfriend Gidget (Jenny Slate) has been entrusted to look after his favourite toy. Of course, she loses it in an old lady’s apartment filled with cats, so this dog must learn to go undercover as a cat. Meanwhile, Shih Tzu Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) enlists the help of super-rabbit Snowball (Kevin Hart) to help rescue a poor lion from a ruthless circus owner. Of course, these three different stories eventually culminate, though this leads to the film being unsure of whether or not it wants to remain episodic in how it portrays these secret lives.

We all know kids can be cute, but we also know that they can be annoying, especially when they’re sugared-up and behaving badly. That is what this film does, but there’s no cuteness, or any semblance of likeability. Of course, as most animated kids’ films have to do now, there just has to be a “you know, I learned something today” lesson given at the film’s conclusion, but against all the inanity of this “adventure”, it comes across as entirely phoney and phoned-in.

The box office results show Illumination Studios becoming a worthy competitor to the animation divisions of Pixar and Dreamworks. Unlike those companies, Illumination is making films not for the whole family, but just for the kids. No-one over the age of six should be subjected to this film, and you should only take your kids to see this if you don’t like them.

The best part of the film (or at least the part that got the most laughs from the kids in the early preview audience) was the end credits that featured actual home-videos of pets and kids doing silly things. It’s possible that you and your kids (and pets, of course) can have a better time keeping your money and instead watching 90 minutes of pet videos at home and you’ll likely (or definitely) get more out of it.