Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 400-Word Review: The Secret Life of Pets 2

Slapstick gags and wacky animals are usually funny. With a slapdash sequel, that might not be enough.




Photo courtesy Universal Studios
 

The 2016 animated comedy “The Secret Life of Pets” riffed on animal behavior and proffered enough wacky action to produce a decent film and a moderately sized hit. A big bit of business stood in the way of a sequel, however; the lead pup, a Jack Russell named Max, was voiced by Louis C.K., the now-disgraced comic who certainly shouldn’t be appearing in children’s films. (And, arguably, anywhere else for the foreseeable future.)

Max, now voiced by scandal-free comic Patton Oswalt, is back to tangle with a new disruption. In the first film, he was coping with the arrival of a second dog, a goofy Newfoundland named Duke (Eric Stonestreet); now, his owner (Ellie Kemper) has a husband and a baby — with whom Max is smitten and immensely protective.

Too protective, as it turns out; his stress over the tot’s safety is giving him anxiety symptoms. The family heads to the country to unwind, where Max meets a stately sheepdog (Harrison Ford) and learns some confidence. Meanwhile, rabbit Snowball (Kevin Hart) and Shih Tzu Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) rescue an abused circus tiger, and Pomeranian Gidget (Jenny Slate) attempts to recover a beloved toy from a cat lady’s apartment.

While these tales resolve, somewhat, into a grand finale, they’re ultimately disconnected stories; it feels like they were elements of an anthology that were hastily stitched together. The lack of an overall plan is obvious at a number of points. The film opens and closes with wistful shots of a fairytale New York City — “Empire State of Mind” even plays over the opening credits — indicating that the sequel will follow the love-letter-to-Manhattan trope. Yet the action swiftly relocates to a rural farm; the film does not attempt to make any country dog, city dog commentary, it just lets the disparity pass without comment.

The less said about the multiple cloying mid-credit sequences, the better. If you’re splicing in YouTube videos of dogs being funny, we know you’re desperate for extra laughs.

Still, it’s often funny. Parent company Illumination Entertainment made its name on the slapstick of the ubiquitous “Minions” characters; while the yellow creatures have themselves grown trite, the “Pets” films have crafted animals lovable enough to make the gags work. You’ll laugh. The highlight of the film, though, is an aggressive turkey — and no movie that peaks with funny gobbling noises can be called a winner.

My Rating: 5/10

"The Secret Life of Pets 2" opens in wide release on Friday, June 7.
 

;

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Artist Invites Public to Add to Time Capsule at Arts Festival

Toby Fraley’s love for historical photos inspired him to take the next step for Pittsburgh’s future.

New Dimensions: The Comic Book Store's Surprise Move

Comic-book (store) avengers. How a sprawling comic-book shop moved out of its longtime home — and reopened for business mere hours later.

PM on KD: Recent Restaurant Openings

PM food critic Hal B. Klein appeared on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss recent Pittsburgh restaurant openings that have him excited.

One Person's Flip Flop is Another One's Art

Ocean Sole Africa’s mission is to reduce pollution and waste by collecting flip flops from the ocean and making them into art.

All In The (Giaramita) Family: La Tavola Italiana and Pizza Taglio

Family members run two distinct restaurants, one classic and one with a contemporary spin.

DeCastro’s Preferred Order: Fries with That, Hold the Drama

The Steelers have emerged from their offseason sessions confident they’re capable of playing better. They also maintain a new atmosphere and culture have been established. But they won’t know for certain until they actually start playing.

Restaurant Review: Masala House in Shadyside

You'll find excellent Indian cuisine in a Shadyside building with a long culinary history.

A Tale of Two Strands: Theaters With the Same Name

In two small towns nearby, old vaudeville stages — which share the same name — have reopened and revitalized their communities.

Hello Neighbor and Scratch Food & Beverage Pair Up for a Very Special Dinner

The community dinner will feature Syrian cuisine, raising awareness of Hello Neighbor's mission and promoting connection and conversation with the region's refugee families.

The 400-Word Review: Murder Mystery

Well into Adam Sandler's tenure as a Netflix actor, he finally comes up with a mostly enjoyable comedy.

From Pittsburgh to the Moon: Our Role in the Space Race

As the nation and private entrepreneurs focus again on space, 50 years after Apollo 11 touched down on the moon, Pittsburgh is once again in the celestial spotlight.

The 400-Word Review: Men in Black International

The alien-comedy series hasn't been good since the 20th century. That trend continues with this soft reboot.

Sweet Partnership: Cakery Square and Fudge Farm

The opening of Fudge Farm's Bloomfield store marks an expansion of Wes Lyons' Pursuit Program and larger menu for the confectioners.

Things We Love — Three Rivers Arts Festival Edition

HOME editor Jessica Sinichak shares her favorite, locally made decorative items from the show.

In a Crowded City for Concerts, Rivers Casino Steps Up

The casino's new Events Center proves itself more than worthy of competing for big-name acts.