By Tim Nasson
The Secret Life of Pets was released in the summer of 2016 and has the distinction of being the highest grossing original film (opening weekend) of all time, with $104,352,905.
Many stars of the original return to the 86 minute The Secret Life of Pets 2 to lend their voices to the pets, including Kevin Hart (Snowball) and Jenny Slate (Gidget). Noticeably absent is Louis C.K, who played Max in the original film. Patton Oswalt fills in for Max this time around. New characters include Tiffany Haddish’s Daisy and Harrison Ford’s Rooster.
As with the original, we are once again transported to NYC, including Alicia Keys’ song New York serving as the opening scene title track, against a backdrop of a beautiful Central Park summer day. Instead of all of the characters going off on one adventure when their owners go to work, as they did in the original, there are three stories, all tied together. The first has Max and Duke (Eric Stonestreet), who really don’t like children, thinking twice about kids when their owner literally picks up a stranger off the street and marries him, and immediately has a baby. More protective of the kid than the kid’s parents are, the dogs learn from Rooster (Ford) at a farm they visit that, sometimes, there is such a thing as worrying too much. The farm scenes, for those fond of classic animated Disney films, is evocative of The Fox and The Hound, but with animation so brilliant that the flies on the cows, actually look like real flies.
Daisy and Snowball are tasked with saving a white tiger cub from a maniacal Russian circus owner, who is Cruella DeVil’s male doppelganger.
Finally, Gidget is entrusted with a plastic dog toy while Max and Duke are away at the farm, but loses it while it bounces into the apartment of a crazy, 100 year old old cat lady, who seems to have 100 cats. She has to pretend to be a cat in order to retrieve the cherished toy.
The writers once again are able to brilliantly capture the antics of cats and dogs, (and sheep, in this film), including the climax towards the end where Gidget and a guinea pig trick the cats into thinking she has captured a laser light and is the queen of all cats, in order for them to surrender the lost dog toy.
There is also the requisite and literal toilet humor. “I have to make a poo,” one of the puppies says to Pops (Dana Carvey), who is now training puppies to do what grown up dogs do. “Go find a shoe,” he instructs his charge.
Will this sequel outperform the original? Hardly. The first film arrived in theaters at the height of summer, the week after July 4th. Will it give this weekend’s Dark Phoenix, the purported final X-Men film, a run for its money? Definitely. I am going with #1 at the box office, but $60 million. Far less than the original’s first three day take.
Will there be a The Secret Life of Pets 3? Bet your bottom dollar on it.
Secret Life of Pets 2 Review