Terrier-mix, Max (voice of Patton Oswalt), narrates his story as “The Secret Life of Pets 2” begins. “I did OK until my owner, Katie, met Chuck, and they got married, but he had his place, and I had mine. Everything seemed fine.” But, Max tells us, not for long. Enter Liam, infant son of Katie and Chuck. Max becomes Liam’s obsessive protector, so neurotic that Katie takes Max to a vet who specializes in emotional disorders. That’s the setup for “Pets 2.”
Does the vet help Max deal with his neuroses? Can big dogs, Duke and Rooster, be more help? Is “Pets 2” animated fun? Yes, if you’re under 10.
Patton Oswalt is the voice of Max, self-appointed guardian of Liam. “I love that kid,” he says, “and I’m never gonna let anything happen to him!” On a road trip with Katie, Chuck, Liam and rescue dog Duke (voice of Eric Stonestreet), Max meets wise farm dog Rooster, Harrison Ford in his first role of this kind, who helps Max find courage despite his anxieties. “The first step in not being afraid,” Rooster says, “is acting like you’re not afraid.” Kevin Hart is the voice of hyper-active bunny, Snowball, who thinks he’s a superhero – Captain Snowball. Jenny Slate is Pomeranian Gidget, who wants to learn “the way of the cat,” mastered by aloof and self-possessed feline, Chloe, voice of Lake Bell.
Others in the large cast include Tiffany Haddish as Daisy, a tough Shih Tzu who recruits Captain Snowball to help rescue a white tiger cub from evil circus owner Sergei (Nick Kroll). Ellie Kemper and Pete Holmes are the voices of Katie and Chuck. Henry Lynch is their toddler son, Liam.
“The Secret Life of Pets 2” is an animated adventure/comedy with plenty of kid-friendly humor, cute talking animals and colorful action. Chris Renaud directed; co-directed by Jonathan del Var. Brian Lynch’s screenplay picks up where Max’s story left off in the 2016 first “Pets” film and mixes in two other plot lines. In one, Gidget promises to keep “Busy Bee,” Max’s favorite squeaky toy. She loses it and must pretend to be a cat to rescue Max’s toy from a crazy, old cat lady. In the other, Snowball and Daisy fight bad guy Sergei and wolves as the circus train speeds away with Hu, the helpless tiger. Following these three stories as the film cuts in and out may be a challenge for youngsters. It was for me.
Rated PG for action and rude humor, “Pets 2” runs 86 minutes. Max learns to be brave. It’s a kid flick.
“The Secret Life of Pets 2” –
It’s animated derring-do;
Kids will like the bathroom jokes,
But not much here for older folks.