The Secret Life Of Pets 2 **1/2

It’s cute and cuddly in all the right ways, and there’s plenty for pet-loving children to enjoy. For adults, not as much. 

Is it worth $10? Yes 

Cute and amusing with a fun soundtrack, “The Secret life Of Pets 2” – the sequel to the 2016 animated hit that grossed $368 million – delivers as expected in all the cuddly ways your kids and grandkids are anticipating. It’s a high-energy, often adorable cartoon that’s bound to inspire a hug for your pet at home as well.

It’s 86 quick minutes, most of which takes the form of a triptych before it comes together in the last act. One storyline follows a Jack Russell Terrier named Max (Patton Oswalt, taking over for Louis C.K.) and his Newfoundland buddy Duke (Eric Stonestreet) as their owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) finds a husband named Chuck (Pete Holmes). Katie and Chuck have a baby. Max is at first jealous of the baby, then they bond and he becomes overprotective. This all happens in the first 15 minutes. Max, Duke and the family head out to visit Chuck’s uncle in the country, where they meet Rooster (a funny Harrison Ford), a Welsh Sheepdog who teaches Max to be a man. Or an adult dog. Whatever.

Before they leave, Max asks a Pomeranian named Gidget (Jenny Slate) to watch his favorite toy. Having a crush on Max, Gidget giddily accepts, only to lose the toy in the apartment of an elderly woman with many, many cats. Needing to retrieve the toy lest her heart be broken, Gidget enlists a flabby tabby named Chloe (Lake Bell) to teach her to act like a cat so she can sneak into the apartment and retrieve the toy. Where this goes is a fun surprise you will not see coming.  

In the third storyline, feisty rabbit Snowball (Kevin Hart) acts like a superhero, so when a cute Shih Tzu named Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) asks for help, he obliges. The mission: Save a tiger cub from the mean human leader of a traveling circus (Nick Kroll). Curiously, the tiger cub, named Hu, doesn’t speak. Nearly every other animal in the film speaks, yet here’s an essential supporting character with nary a word. If directors Chris Renaud and Jonathan del Val are going to ask viewers to suspend disbelief and enjoy animals talking, then all the important ones need to be heard.

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Will kids, the target audience, notice this? Maybe. It’s more likely that they (especially the little ones) will enjoy dogs saying how much they love sticking their heads out of car windows, cats rudely waking their owners and coughing up hairballs when annoyed, and old Pops (Dana Carvey) teaching a litter of puppies to poop in shoes and hide socks. This humor is on-the-nose, easy and obvious, yes, but the timing and delivery still have to be there to get a laugh, and they are.

Did I mind sitting through “The Secret Life Of Pets 2”? Not at all, and I’m not an animal person. Nonetheless, as a whole the movie feels like three short films combined into one, which makes it a bit too scattered for its own good. But oh, those cats and dogs are so cute doing cat and dog things.

Did you know?
Stay for the credits to see some human and pet frolicking. Or just watch the same thing on YouTube.

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