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Movie Review: “The Secret Life of Pets 2”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 6/7/2019

Theatrical Release: 6/7/2019

Synopsis

Max (Patton Oswalt) now gets along with Duke (Eric Stonestreet). The two are friends, they are able to coexist with one another peacefully, and everything seems like it will be okay. However, that peace does not last, as their owner has a baby. Max gets less attention from his owner, and the baby has the run of the house, so there is no space for Max to call his own. Nevertheless, Max loves the young boy and he will do anything to protect him. Unfortunately, Max’s protectiveness turns into somewhat of an obsession. The boy is beginning school, and the world is far too big and far too dangerous for Max to protect the boy from everything, which is something that drives him crazy.

Meanwhile, Snowball (Kevin Hart) has become the superhero known as “Captain Snowball.” He vows to protect the city from danger, and he gets a tip that a white tiger is being held by an abusive entertainer. This is not something that Captain Snowball will allow. Thus, he sets out to free the tiger and to find it a new home.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Pet Community (+4pts)

Captain Snowball (-3pts)

Max & The Boy (+4pts)

Connecting the Storylines (-3pts)

Rooster (+3pts)

The Antagonist (-3pts)

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Pro: The Pet Community (+4pts)

I really enjoyed seeing the community of pets that live around Max, and they were easily my favorite part of this movie. Seeing what they did when humans were away was really entertaining, and seeing how they viewed things that humans do or make them do—such as going to the vet—was a blast. The movie was at its best when it was depicting familiar pet behavior from the perspective of the pets. This was not the focus of the movie, but it was pretty entertaining when it was happening.

I also enjoyed the personalities of these animals. From the lazy cat named Chloe (Lake Bell), to the love obsessed Pomeranian named Gidget (Jenny Slate), and the feisty Shih Tzu named Daisy (Tiffany Haddish), I enjoyed seeing each of these pets’ personalities. Seeing them interacting with the other pets in the neighborhood made for some of the movie’s funnier moments. While none of these moments had me laughing hysterically—or anywhere near it—I was definitely chuckling throughout this movie.

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Con: Captain Snowball (-3pts)

This storyline gave me the impression that the filmmakers did not really know what to do with this character. I felt like the filmmakers had a decent storyline for Max, which I will get into later, but Snowball did not really fit into that storyline. Due to that, and due to wanting to keep Kevin Hart in this franchise, the filmmakers needed to find something for Snowball to do. It also felt like the filmmakers did not know what to do with the character, so they just asked themselves what was popular right now, and they answer they came up with was: superheroes.

The filmmakers gave Snowball the superhero persona of Captain Snowball, but they did not do anything fun or interesting with this storyline. Snowball did not have any abilities, and instead just believed he was a superhero. If done correctly, this could have been very entertaining. They could have had Snowball almost inadvertently succeeding, and being arrogant about it. It would have been much more entertaining if they had done this, or if they had found any other clever way of executing this storyline. Instead, the filmmakers did nothing special with it, which was a bit of a bummer.

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Pro: Max & The Boy (+4pts)

I do not want to get into detail on why I liked this storyline, because it was pretty much the whole plot of the movie, and could pretty quickly get into spoiler territory. That being said, I liked where the filmmakers took this character. The last movie was about Max coming to terms with having to share his owner’s attention with another dog. This movie was about Max being an obsessive guardian to his owner’s child.

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I liked this storyline for a couple reasons. First, it showed the bond a pet can have with a child. Second, Max took on a sort of parental guardian role, so it showed how paranoid one can get when trying to shield a child from every danger the world has to offer. I thought this was a logical next step in Max’s story, and I thought the filmmakers executed it in a satisfying way.

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Con: Connecting the Storylines (-3pts)

I have already mentioned the fact that there were two main storylines in this movie. One was about Max and his mission to protect the boy, and the other was about Snowball and his superhero endeavor. I have also already mentioned my issues with the latter. These two storylines were very different, and there was no reason to connect them, other than to force Max and Snowball into the same story.

Unfortunately, that was exactly what the filmmakers did, and I do not think it worked. With this shift, the filmmakers shifted attention from Max’s storyline to randomly include him in Snowball’s storyline. However, Snowball’s storyline still felt very much irrelevant, and I do not understand the point in shifting Max’s story in this direction. His story felt more relevant, which made it more entertaining, because I connected with it. Connecting the two felt forced, it felt unnecessary, and it made Snowball feel incompetent, and not in a good, comedic sort of way.

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Pro: Rooster (+3pts)

Rooster, despite his name, was a farm dog. Voiced sternly by Harrison Ford, Rooster was a no nonsense protector of the farm he lived on. Many of the other farm animals feared him, but they all respected him. I do not want to get into how Rooster played into this story, but I enjoyed the character quite a bit. He was everything that Max wanted to be for his owner’s son, yet he was also everything that Max was not.

Max wanted and needed to be a protector. Unfortunately, his size and breed prevented him from naturally filling that role. Rooster was the embodiment of everything that Max was not, and I enjoyed seeing Max coming face to face with that. How did Max deal with it? You will have to see the movie to find out, but I enjoyed seeing the character of Rooster force Max down that path of character development.

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Con: The Antagonist (-3pts)

The primary antagonist of this movie was the villain of Snowball’s storyline, because it was really the environment that served as the antagonist of Max’s storyline. Snowball's antagonist was an entertainer that abused animals. He was a pretty cut and dry, one-dimensional character, but this was not the main thing about the character that I had issue with. Sure, he was written poorly in the sense that he was a one-note, generic, and forgettable character, but he was also illogical.

He made decisions that no human would ever make, all just to move the plot along and to get more animals involved in the story. There were ways for the filmmakers to achieve the same result without sacrificing the antagonist‘s intelligence, but they took the lazy way out and made this guy an idiot. I also did not think there was a satisfying or memorable conclusion to this character’s story. With all that together, I got the impression that the filmmakers rushed this character into the movie, and they did not care if he made any sense.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

movie-review-the-secret-life-of-pets-2

Grade: C+ (77pts)

I thought the first movie had a fun premise, but I thought that the filmmakers dropped the ball with it. The premise was about what animals do when we are not around, as well as what their thought process is behind familiar pet behavior. The first movie touched on this idea, but ultimately took the story in other directions. This movie on the other hand, had plenty of humor based around that premise. The pet community was far from the main focus of the story, but we got to see a number of scenes and moments that poked fun at pet behavior, and all of it was great.

The plot consisted of two storylines, and while I liked one quite a bit, the other reeked of lazy filmmaking. The filmmakers then tried to connect these storylines, but there was no natural way to do so. They then ended up ignoring the storyline that I liked better, in favor of the one I had issues with. I thought the filmmakers made some bad decisions when making this movie, but there were still some entertaining moments and characters, as well as a main storyline that I thought worked really well. At the end of the day, however, this review is for any adults planning to see this movie. Kids will not care about most of what I said here, as they just want to see an animated movie about silly animals, and in that respect, this movie worked. However, to adults reading this, do not expect this kids movie to be one of your new favorites.

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