“The Secret Life of Pets 2” is directed by Chris Renaud, who directed the previous installment to this specific franchise. He also has a voice role as multiple characters. Renaud is directing alongside Jonathan del Val, whose work has mainly been in the animation department for other Illumination titles such as “The Grinch” and “The Lorax,” which makes this his directorial debut. This film stars Patton Oswalt (King of Queens, Ratatouille) as the character of Max, a dog who has many pet pals in his vicinity around the city of New York. What’s interesting about that is the first movie had Max be voiced by Louis C.K., but based on eventually surfaced controversy, C.K. was replaced by Oswalt. Alongside Oswalt, we have Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family, Identity Thief), Kevin Hart (Ride Along, Central Intelligence), Jenny Slate (Obvious Child, The LEGO Batman Movie), Tiffany Haddish (Night School, Uncle Drew), Lake Bell (BoJack Horseman, Childrens Hospital), Nick Kroll (Operation Finale, Sing), Hannibal Buress (The Eric Andre Show, Neighbors), Bobby Moynihan (Saturday Night Live, Me, Myself, & I), and Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark).
“The Secret Life of Pets 2” follows the story of the recently mentioned Max as he adapts to having a human child by his side, only to eventually become protective of said child, not to mention, his own self. Meanwhile we get side stories involving the bunny Snowball as a superhero and the dog Gidget guarding a toy as she tries to learn the traditions of being a cat.
I saw the original “Secret Life of Pets” back when it came out, and it was also one of my first reviews I have ever done (view my continuously developing content here). When I did that review, I managed to view the movie as decent, and I managed to address a complaint that I imagine a decent number of people had while watching the film. Specifically, the notion that “The Secret Life of Pets” is too similar to “Toy Story.” Yes, there are similarities, but “The Secret Life of Pets” is fine enough to stand on its own if you ask me.
That first movie managed to make $800 million more than its original budget of $75 million. Regardless of the movie’s quality, that is something both Universal and Illumination should celebrate. So naturally, a sequel seemed to be inevitable.
Well, here we are. And honestly, while I imagine some people like Chris Renaud may be doing this as a passion project, this almost feels like one of those movies that only exists just to make money. I could just say that just from viewing the movie on paper, but I viewed it on a screen. Guess what? I still feel that way! “The Secret Life of Pets 2” is the worst animation of the year so far! If I had to be honest, this just makes me feel bad for Illumination. I know the studio is pretty popular right now, especially with the following of “Despicable Me,” a trilogy I still have yet to see from start to finish. I saw part of the second film, and that is it. No, I have not seen “Minions.” But even though I enjoyed “Sing” and sort of enjoyed “The Secret Life of Pets,” I have yet to see that one film which defines the studio. To add onto this, I watched last year’s “The Grinch” and it was freaking awful. My gosh golly! That movie was a mean one for sure! Sadly, I think this movie’s worse. Because for starters, much like “The Grinch,” there is some occasional nice looking animation in this, but I think “The Grinch” slightly edges out its competitor because “The Grinch” was colorful and zazzy. There was nothing in this film that had a real wow factor. In fact, most of the film is cringe if you ask me!
Seriously! The writing is terrible! The plot is nearly convoluted! Not to mention, the movie almost has this rushed feeling to it. And if you look at the runtime, this statement would not surprise you. I say that because the runtime is 1 hour and 26 minutes. Coincidentally, that is also the runtime of what may be the worst animated film of all time, “The Emoji Movie,” another rushed disaster that might as well exist because, well, the thing it is about is trendy! “The Secret Life of Pets” was a success, why not make another one? We’ll make it the s*ittiest waste of time and money imaginable, and everyone will go see it. The script will be so lazy that it will eventually spend lots of time in one of the crew members’ junk drawers! Granted, “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” admittedly, is much better than “The Emoji Movie,” so this does not say much.
I felt like I already gave a teaser to how chaotic this movie is in terms of building blocks, because it didn’t feel like a movie. Instead, it felt more like a bad situation comedy episode with pets as the main cast. There are multiple plot lines for individual characters, which is fine for a number of films, but the execution was poor in this one. There are cheap jokes that don’t land, and there are anger-inducing moments that make playing a game of pinball where the flipper buttons shock you with each press look fun!
As for Max himself, there is one question I want to ask to the general audience going to this film. Do you care about the replacement voice actor? I could tell the voice difference betweent Oswalt and C.K., but I understand why the replacement happened so it’s not like I entirely give damn. Oswalt did a fine job with the voice, but as an avid moviegoer, I am gonna inevitably notice things, and Oswalt’s voice is not the same as C.K.’s. If you ask me, I would have probably done an audition process to see if someone could be a good match to Louis C.K.’s voice for the movie. Then again, I imagine some people don’t want to think about that guy so that could backfire. In terms of characterization, I understand the purpose of his character throughout the film and how he was written, but Max’s main problem in the movie in terms of how it was executed, nearly made me roll my eyes. Did I feel bad for him at times? Sure. But I still hated myself throughout the experience.
But as he tries to cope with this we get to meet the absolute best character in the movie, Rooster. For one thing, he’s voiced by Harrison Ford, who definitely brings a likable screen presence into a lot of projects, perhaps even if he sleepwalks. He has a couple of funny moments during the film, sadly I saw the characters’s main highlights prior to going into the auditorium. I guess this is what you get for watching promotional material and talk shows. Although unfortunately, because this movie quite literally cannot get any shorter, the amount of screentime Rooster manages to have is slightly underwhelming. I could tell that Harrison Ford was likely trying, but I would almost bet that this was a paycheck movie as far as Ford was concerned. As soon as I saw what I then gathered would be Ford’s final scene in the film, I almost wanted to turn off my brain. And I don’t mean turn off my brain and shove popcorn in my month as I stare at the screen. I mean lose all processes of thinking, knowing, and realizing. Because while I’m not psychic, I imagined that whatever would come next in the film, would be nowhere near as fun or entertaining as the scenes with Ford’s character. And of course, this super genius of film is right once again! Boom! Although I will say one thing about Harrison Ford’s character that is kind of interesting, I guess Han Solo got to play Chewbacca for once!
Chewbacca derives from a Russian word for dog.
There is a lot of crap that happens in this movie to the point where I don’t even have the time to hit all of it (and some hinges into spoiler territory). Some of it includes a scene where Chloe (Lake Bell) is slowly taking in the effects of cat nip as if it was some sort of illegal drug, which might qualify to be one of the most unintentionally disturbing scenes in animation history. The ending is kind of absurd that it almost feels like it is too much for a cartoon, but there is one thing I have yet to cover regarding this film that I absolutely hate as a viewer.
They say a story is only as good as its villain. If that’s the case, THEN THIS STORY IS BULLCRAP! “The Secret Life of Pets 2” has a villain that even makes a good portion of the underwhelming MCU villains come off as menacing and watchable. Specifically, a character by the name of Sergei. The lackluster Sergei is partially responsible for running a circus. His latest addition to the crew is a wild tiger named Hu. Maybe I could appreciate the villain if he wasn’t so over-embellished, but crew went ahead and uttered “F*ck that! Quality? Who cares about quality? Let’s make him talk deep, with a unique yet cliche voice, give him the most boring lines imaginable, give him less personality than a bowling pin, and possibly make him more evil than he should be!” It would be fine if Sergei were some alien from another world or if he… I dunno, just didn’t happen to be human, but behind his black clothing and sidekick wolves, he is very likely just a regular guy. I imagine he would do other things in life aside from his dayjob at the circus. Once he gets home, I imagine he turns on the TV, watches the news, heats up a microwavable pizza, drinks a glass water, takes a shower, lives a normal life. I don’t mind ordinary people becoming extremely villainous for one reason or another, but in this case, it just didn’t work. If this is supposed to be propaganda against the circus or keeping wild animals where they don’t belong, maybe I could appreciate the movie for the direction it decided to take. But I’m sorry, it is overshadowed by cringe, insanity, stupidity, and a villain who makes this movie even more of a waste of my time than I ever imagined it would be. Remember the movie “Up” where the main villain is basically an elderly man who just loved to explore and hunt? He was not a maniac for the sake of being a maniac! Much like this film’s villain, he’s got a pack of animal sidekicks, but they have more dimension than chasing after potential victims. Then again, that’s because in this movie, the wolves are loyal to their one-dimensional owner whereas in “Up” the owner of the mob of dogs managed to have a personality. Man, this movie sucks!
In the end, “The Secret Life of Pets 2” is more intolerable than a bite from a vicious dog. I cannot even believe I am still talking about this movie! But in all seriousness, this movie could have been a lesson to children to make them realize they may have to face their fears, but sadly, I’m a teenager, and now I have self-diagnosed disease of TheSecretLifeofPets2phobia. Maybe it could be a lesson for adults and parents to not to make their children too soft, but even with a lesson like that intact, I learned a different lesson from “The Secret Life of Pets 2.” That lesson by the way is that I don’t ever want to watch this film again! This movie is a bad boy! Bad boy! Or… girl??? Is it a boy or girl? I dunno, who cares? The jokes don’t the work, the screenplay doesn’t work, and everything feels as rushed as math homework done by a student who answered each problem with the phrase “I dunno.” The first movie was OK, and now I am starting to wonder if someone put heavy drugs in my body because maybe if I watch that original film now it could suck. You know, kind of like this movie did. I’m going to give “The Secret Life of Pets 2” a 2/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that next week I am going to releasing a giant post related to my Scene Before experience so far this year, which will also include a preview for what I’ll be doing for the rest of the year. Stay tuned for that! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Secret Life of Pets 2?” What did you think about it? Or, what is the worst animated movie of the year for you? I did not see “Wonder Park,” but if I did see it, I imagine that would be in the conversation for sure. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!