It was one of those family films that managed to entertain both kids and adults, and had some memorable lines. The film made more than $875 million at the worldwide box office, so it was a no-brainer that we’d get a sequel.
“The Secret Life of Pets 2,” is now in theaters and though it has some laughs and some heart, it’s missing that special factor that made the first so enjoyable.
Here are some reasons “The Secret Life of Pets 2” is a good boy, and some reasons it should be an outside dog.
Who’s a good boy?
Kevin Hart delivers
Kevin Hart is one of the biggest movie stars working today. He seems to be in just about everything, so why wouldn’t he be in this?
I used to be hit-and-miss on Hart, but he has grown on me over the years — his appearance in “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and voice work in “The Secret Life of Pets” made me a fan. His over-the-top portrayal of Snowball in the first "Pets" was hilarious, and we get more of that in the sequel.
Thankfully Hart's storyline and character didn’t feel like too much of a good thing, and I actually found myself longing for Snowball when he wasn’t on-screen. Somehow I relate to this sociopathic and egotistical bunny rabbit and he and makes me laugh.
The writing for the character is obviously strong, and Hart’s delivery is pitch-perfect and makes for the best part of the film.
The animation is impressive
Illumination isn't as known for their amazing animation as other animation studios, such as Pixar.
Not that the visuals are bad — they're actually very good, especially compared to most other animated films. But Illumination's style seems more whimsical and maybe not always at the same technical level as Pixar's.
While “Pets 2” is still fairly whimsical and cartoonish, especially with the human characters, I was thoroughly impressed with the level of detail the animators put into this film. It seems like a small thing, but the way they played with shadows, used lighting and created realistic interaction with the world around the characters was well-done.
There is a specific moment when Max (Patton Oswalt) looks through the window of a farmhouse under the moonlight. The shadows and lighting are spot-on perfect, and I was taken aback for a moment as my brain tried to comprehend the amount of work and detail that went into that one moment.
It’s got some good laughs
The best part about the original “Pets” was how funny it was. I found myself laughing out loud on numerous occasions.
“Pets 2” isn’t as funny as the first entry, but it has enough laughs to keep you and your kids entertained. Snowball offers some solid laughs, but the funniest part of the film comes from the fluffy dog Gidget (Jenny Slate) and a horde of cats.
I think people stared at me because I was laughing so hard at this scene, but I thought it was incredibly clever and laugh-out-loud funny.
Who's been a bad dog?
The story is disjointed
In an effort to give fan favorites Gidget and Snowball more screen time, the filmmakers decided to have three separate, and eventually intersecting, storylines play out.
Snowball and a new character go on one adventure, as Gidget goes on a completely different adventure involving some cats. At the same time, Max and Duke (Eric Stonestreet) — the stars of the first film — take a vacation with their owners to a rural farm and are nowhere near the other pets.
Some of the storylines are interesting enough, but these characters are at their best when they’re together, and that doesn’t happen until the end of the film. I understand what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish with the separate storylines, but I don’t quite think they landed it.
The villain doesn’t fit
I won’t give anything away, but there is a specific villain in the film pushing the intertwined plot toward its eventual climax.
It’s hard to put my finger on why, but he just didn’t seem to fit in this world. Somehow the character’s look, feel and overall personality just didn’t seem to fit what had been previously established in this universe.
I like Nick Kroll, and he does a fine job voicing the character, but the whole conflict didn’t jive in this world and felt forced and out of place.
I had my disappointments with “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” and for me, the first film is superior to this one. But let’s put all of that aside and focus on what’s really important here, and the opinion we should really be listening to: the kids.
I took my 2-year-old and my 8-year-old to the film, and they both loved it. They were laughing nearly nonstop, and then quoted the movie the whole way home and have referenced it many times since seeing it.
I may have had my issues, but my kids had a ball. I was entertained enough, which tells me “The Secret Life of Pets 2” isn’t a bad choice for a night out with the family.
"The Secret Life of Pets 2" is rated PG for some action and rude humor.