The Secret Life of Pets attempted to make lightning strike twice but unfortunately fell prey to the all too familiar, sophomore slump. While the much-anticipated sequel brought back the same big-name cast and even added a few new noteworthy stars to their cast of cute critters, the movie fell flat compared to the original. The intentions for the movie are ambitious as they attempt to do a City Slickers spin-off of sorts juxtaposed with a superhero parody, however, by the time these two narrative arcs come together, most of the originality and jokes flop. If you have seen the trailers, you have likely seen the best jokes that the movie has to offer. It is hard to laugh when everything of notice is being heard for a second time.
As with the original, the voice acting is steadfast with Harrison Ford as a stellar addition. He steals the show as Rooster, the tough farm dog, and makes me wish that he did more comedy with his raw and no-nonsense voice. Everyone else seems stale as if they rested back on their laurels from what a smashing success the first movie was. In addition to Harrison Ford, the cast welcomed Tiffany Haddish but unfortunately, her character only served as an extension of her on-stage persona which really serves no place in the movie and becomes forced and grating at times.
The movie improved slightly when it's two parallel plots joined together in the city. It was evident what they were going for; however, they struggled in the achievement of their vision. The Secret Life of Pets 2 is the opposite of most blockbusters where they deliver during the 1st hour and fall flat in the second half. I found myself even checking my watch several times as the beginning dragged on and I anticipated meltdowns as the younger audience disengaged slowly. The message is more positive than the first movie’s message which received a lot of backlash for its violent and discriminatory undertones. The commentary on generations as well as different parenting styles was candid, kindred, and welcomed. As a disavowed millennial, I enjoyed a laugh at the interactions of different parenting styles and the overprotectiveness of Generation X, where indulgence, excuses, and coddling are prioritized and parodied. But unfortunately, this seemed to be the only notably funny take away. I feel like The Secret Life of Pets 2 would have scored a home run had it been released in the 90s to a baby boomer crowd. The Secret Life of Pets 2 is worth a try for parents who are looking to take their younger children to the movies this weekend or for kids who were big fans of the first movie or, even better, grandparents looking for a getaway with their grand-kids. Grandparents will find it fantastic and should take advantage of the tropes and jokes that would fit their humor palate more appropriately than younger families.
The skinny: Great for its audience but not for everyone. 2.5 stars out of 4. It is thumbs up for parents with young children but thumbs down for everyone else. This is not a typical Pixar movie nor is it a quality animated film with the deep heartwarming story that most adults are used to. It doesn't earn any substantial laughs and in typical Melandri fashion, it was made for with one goal in mind: profit.