Friday, 31 May 2019

Review: The Secret Life Of Pets 2

The Secret Life Of Pets 2
Cert: U / 86 mins / Dir. Jonathan del Val & Chris Renaud / Trailer

To Illumination Studios now, taking a valiant amount of time away from the franchise which makes them the money and putting that into the sequel which, with the very best will in the world, nobody really asked for. 2016's The Secret Life Of Pets was fun. A flimsy and somewhat linear storyline, but played out by a committed voice-cast and packed with plenty of jokes for animal lovers. So where do we go from there?


This seems to be a question which has plagued writer Bryan Lynch as he struggles to deliver an amiable, if bare-bones, continuation of the pet-centric New York which was crafted first time round. The cast are still on great form (with the inclusion of Harrison Ford as the taciturn sheepdog, Rooster), the character animation and sets are highly polished (although Illumination's character-design for the humans is still as lacklustre as ever), and the whole thing zips along at a heady pace.

And, somewhat ironically, it's this briskness which is the film's undoing. At 86 minutes including all the end credits, this is already a short trip to the movies. But the story quickly splits into three strands (Max the terrier goes on a farm adventure, Snowball the bunny's superhero mission, Gidget the pomeranian's stealth mission) which occur almost entirely separately from each other, only tying up at the end with some strenuous narrative gymnastics. It quickly begins to feel like a trio of straight-to-DVD spinoff adventures, hastily reformatted into a movie at the 11th hour.


That's not to say that The Secret Life Of Pets 2 isn't enjoyable (and for a U-certificate it does extremely well on the all-round laugh count), but the lack of imagination that's gone into the title*1 is a fair reflection of the screenplay. With the well of 'hey, dogs do this funny thing' gags just about run dry in the first installment, the humour here is broader slapstick and sight-gags. A fair amount of cat jokes still remain, but any threequel is going to have to think of some actual new content.

For all my grumbling, The Secret Life Of Pets 2 is actually pretty good considering its absolute lack of purpose. And with the trailer for The Queen's Corgi playing right beforehand, you just make the absolute most of the laughs wherever you can find them these days, y'know..?

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
Well, The Secret Life Of Pets to be honest. That's about it at this stage.

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?
As fun as it is, the natural home of this movie is on DVD.

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?
It is.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Let's not get carried away.

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?
That's possible.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: The voices of Yani, Clone Wars' Barris Offee, the Clone Wars rabbit-droid, those prequel Battle Droids and someone called Han Solo are in this.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 and while it's more of a marketing concern, check out that tagline on the poster. "They still have their secrets". What? Is that it, Terry? Have you literally written this having no knowledge of the first movie's content, but figuring you can just blag something based on the title structure alone? The 'I Still Know What You Did Last Summer of family animation? Michael Bay called, he wants you to join his scriptwriting team... [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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