The problem with any sequel is that it’s rarely as good as the film that it’s trying to ape. Film-makers have to decide from the get-go, whether they want to give audiences something new or more of the same—only louder, showier, and with bigger name actors. Secret Life of Pets 2 has taken the second path. And while that means that you’ll inevitably find yourself comparing it to that first, sweet, chucklesome outing, it’s not all bad news.
There’s plenty here to love—from feisty Shih Tzu, Daisy (Tiffany Haddish), who adds a little more gender-balance to guy-heavy cast, to Harrison Ford’s John Wayne-esque wise farm dog, Rooster. The underlying messages about self-confidence, love, and friendship are as strong as ever. There are lots of laughs and some important—but not overplayed—positive roll model moments for kids to absorb. Older children will also appreciate the three-pronged plot which dovetails into a satisfyingly warm and fuzzy conclusion.
But this isn’t a film for the little ones. It’s too frenetic, (potentially) too confusing, and—although it’s only ten minutes longer than the first film—it feels a lot longer.
Secret Life of Pets 2 tries hard to please, succeeds in all the right ways but, ultimately, lacks the magic of the first film.