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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.

The Secret Life of Pets 2

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, are able to coexist in peace, and everything seems like it will be okay. However, that peace does not last when 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 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 Max crazy.

Meanwhile, Snowball (Kevin Hart) has become the superhero known as “Captain Snowball.” He vows to protect the city from danger, and 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 find it a new home.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

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)

Easily the most entertaining part of this movie, I really enjoyed seeing the community of pets that live around Max. Seeing what they do when humans are away, and how they view things that humans do or make them do (such as going to the vet). 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 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, as well as the personalities of the various other pets in the neighborhood, as they interacted with one another. It 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 through a lot of it.

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Con: Captain Snowball (-3pts)

This was a storyline that 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 be doing. It also felt like the filmmakers did not know what to do with the character, so asked themselves “what is popular right now?”

The answer to that question is “superheroes”. They gave Snowball the superhero persona of Captain Snowball, but they did not do anything fun or interesting with this storyline. Snowball does not have any abilities, he just thinks he is a superhero. If done correctly, this could have been very entertaining, but this was not the case. 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 this storyline. As a result, it gave me the impression that the filmmakers did not know what to do with the character and just wanted to capitalize on the popularity of the superhero genre in the easiest way possible.

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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. 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 a loving guardian to his owner’s child.

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 in the world. I thought this storyline 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, while the other was about Snowball and his superhero endeavor. I have also already mentioned my issues with Snowball’s storyline. 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 is exactly what the filmmakers did, and I do not think it worked. With this shift, the filmmakers shifted attention from Max’s storyline to include him (randomly) in Snowball’s storyline. However, Snowball’s storyline still felt very much irrelevant, and I do not understand the point in shifting Max’s attention in this direction. His storyline felt more relevant which made it more entertaining. 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, is a farm dog. Voiced sternly by Harrison Ford, Rooster is a no nonsense protector of a farm. Many of the other farm animals fear him, but they all respect him. I do not want to get into how Rooster plays 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 was also everything that Max was not.

Max saw himself as, and wanted to be, a protector. Unfortunately, his size and breed prevent him from naturally filling that role. Rooster was the embodiment of everything Max was not, and I enjoyed seeing Max coming face to face with that. How does Max deal with that? 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 the environment served as the antagonist of Max’s storyline. The villain was an entertainer that abuses 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 make, all just to move the plot along and to get more animals involved with the story. There were ways for the filmmakers to get the same result without sacrificing the antagonist‘s Intelligence. Unfortunately, the filmmakers did not seem to care enough to try to do that. On top of all of that, I did not think there was a satisfying or memorable conclusion to this character’s story. When it came to this character, I got the impression that the filmmakers rushed him into the movie, and 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

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Grade: C+ (77pts)

I thought the first movie had a fun premise, but thought that the filmmakers dropped the ball with its story. The premise was about what animals do when we are not around, as well as their thought process behind familiar behavior. The first movie touched on this idea a few times, but the filmmakers more or less lost focus of the film’s premise. 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 movie, but we got to see a number of scenes and moments that poked fun at pet behavior.

The plot consisted of two storylines. One that I liked quite a bit, and one that I thought felt like 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 think 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. Fortunately, I think kids will enjoy this movie enough, despite my issues with it, which is really the most important thing with a movie like this one.