Movies

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is an amusing but aimless follow-up to the original

The Secret in Their Eyes, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Secret Garden have all been remade, but none has ever had a sequel, because once the secret is out, what remains to be said? This is the biggest problem with The Secret Life of Pets 2, the amusing but rather aimless follow-up to the 2016 original.

You’ll recall that in the previous one, a terrier named Max (voiced by Louis C.K.) gets jealous when his owner gets a second dog, Duke (Eric Stonestreet). By the end of the film, they have learned to live together in harmony. Max is back in this one, voiced now by Patton Oswalt, because – well, let’s just say the phrase “bad dog” springs to mind.

Pets 2 was penned by a single writer, Brian Lynch, which is odd because the movie features three barely connected plots, as though afraid to abandon any idea, good or bad.

In one, Max has to discover his heroic side with the help of a tough old birddog named Rooster (Harrison Ford in his first animated role). Plot two has Gidget (Jenny Slate) losing Max’s favourite toy in a house full of cats, and trying to pass as a feline to get it back. Then there’s Snowball the bunny (Kevin Hart) and a little dog named Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) saving a tiger from an evil circus owner.

All three stories come together in the end, though it’s less a case of connect-the-dots than squish-the-dots-together-and-hope-they-stick. They do, barely, thanks to several very funny bits, most involving amusing animal sounds; I particularly liked it when Lake Bell’s character, stoned on catnip, was briefly freaked out by her own purring and then decided to see what other noises she could make.

There’s not enough here to keep an adult engaged for even the film’s brief 86 minutes, but the small fry should enjoy the yuks. Bored grown-ups can play who’s-that-actor and try to match the critter character to the voices of Dana Carvey, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress and others. Or they can count the days until Toy Story 4, the summer’s next big animated feature (opening June 21), and the only thing standing between us and Angry Birds 2.

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