Let’s face it, the first Secret Life of Pets wasn’t exactly a classic or something memorable by any means. In fact, I often considered the animated feature as one of Illumination Entertainment’s lesser efforts, despite the fact it made a sizable US$875.5 million on a US$75 million budget back in 2016. Which is why I kept my expectation low when the animation studio came up with an inevitable sequel three years later.
This time, Max (voiced by Patton Oswalt, who replaced the disgraced voice actor Louis C.K. following his sexual misconduct with five women in 2017) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet) are both facing significant changes in their life. Their owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper) has finally found her soulmate Chuck (Pete Holmes). Both of them eventually married and has a baby kid named Liam.
One day, when their owners decided to go on a family trip to a farm, Max entrusted his favourite chew toy nicknamed Busy Bee to Gidget (Jenny Slate) under her care while he’s away. Of course, things do not go smoothly as planned when Gidget accidentally lost Max’s beloved chew toy and ends up in an apartment filled with lots of cats.
Elsewhere, Snowball (Kevin Hart) who dresses up as a superhero, teams up with a Shih Tzu dog named Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) to rescue a white tiger cub Hu from a merciless circus owner Sergei (Nick Kroll).
Oh, wait… there’s more! While Max is on the farm, he meets a Welsh sheepdog named Rooster (Harrison Ford), in which he learns a lesson or two about how to man up like a real dog.
No doubt these multiple storylines are enough to fit a mini-season of an animated YouTube series consisting of three or four short episodes. The result is nothing more than a casual, fluffy fun of family-friendly entertainment that would likely please most of the kids and even undemanding viewers.
Whereas Brian Lynch’s script is a mixed bag of economical storytelling, returning director Chris Renaud alongside co-helmer Jonathan del Val manages to keep the pace brisk enough over the course of a scant 86 minutes. The jokes may have been a hit-and-miss affair but at least they did a fine job staging some worthwhile set-pieces (e.g. Snowball and Daisy’s rescue mission and the climactic train sequence).
The voice acting from recurring cast members to newcomers are another lifesavers here, with Harrison Ford’s perfectly grizzled Rooster particularly impresses me the most in his first voice performance.