Max the terrier must cope with some major life changes when his owner gets married and has a baby. When the family takes a trip to the countryside, nervous Max has numerous run-ins with canine-intolerant cows, hostile foxes and a scary turkey. Luckily for Max, he soon catches a break when he meets Rooster, a gruff farm dog who tries to cure the lovable pooch of his neuroses.

Not to be “punny” but I seriously have a bone to pick with Illumination and their upcoming movie, The Secret Life of Pets 2.

The main story revolves around Max (Patton Oswalt, replacing Louis CK from the original) and Duke (Eric Stonetreet) who are adjusting to having a new toddler named Liam around in their lives. Max cares so much for him to the point where he starts to feel super-protective and overwhelmingly anxious for Liam who is about to start preschool. It is not until when the family takes a trip to a farm where Max meets a herding dog named Rooster (Harrison Ford) who helps Max with being brave and getting over the fears he has. Meanwhile, there are other adventures going on back in New York City – Gidget (Jenny Slate) tries to recover Max’s favorite toy from an apartment filled with a bunch of cats and Snowball (Kevin Hart) helps his new friend Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) with rescuing an abused tiger from an evil circus owner.

Before I get to why I did not like this movie, let’s focus on the positives that Secret Life of Pets 2. The CG-animation is spectacular. I am consistently blown away by how far animation has come since when I was a kid growing up in ‘90s. The colors are vibrant, the detail is immaculate, and it all comes together to deliver so much life on the big screen. The animation is a major contributing factor in making these characters look so freaking cute and cuddly. There were multiple times when I wish I was with my dog just because the animated dogs in the movie made me long for a puppy snuggling session. As for the humor, it was okay for a kid’s movie. It had a strong start in the beginning but as the movie progressed, several of the jokes fell flat for me. That said, the audience I was with definitely had a good time themselves, especially the younger ones who came with their parents so that energy from the crowd helped make the movie-watching experience a little more entertaining for me. I am glad to know at least somebody enjoyed watching this movie more than I did.

I don’t mean to sound like a total Debbie downer but if I am being completely honest, this should not have been a widely-released movie. To me, it did not feel like a traditional sequel we would normally see from other successful franchises targetted towards a younger audience such as Toy Story and Shrek. Those sequels had solid grasps when it comes to storytelling. They also took into consideration the character arcs we are familiar with from previous movies and how it can be further developed in future installments.

In the case of Secret Life of Pets 2, however, I believe that it does not do that. Instead, it felt like 3 animated shorts were glued together and tried to call itself a theatrical movie. Because of that direction, we never actually got to see all of the characters interact with each other until the very end of the movie and THAT was the biggest issue I had with this movie. There were barely any crossovers and the movie suffers because of it. The appearances of the supporting roles felt completely underused and that bothered me a lot. That is how strongly I believe this movie was not meant to exist in the manner it does. It’s funny because I watched the first Secret Life of Pets movie for the very first time earlier this week just so to prepare for this sequel. However, if you have not seen the first Secret Life and are worried about being lost in this second movie, I would say “Don’t be.” It did not develop further from its predecessor and felt very much like a glorified “direct-to-video” sequel than like an actual movie.

My score: ★★½/5

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is coming to theaters on Friday, June 7th.

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