ON THE surface, the first The Secret Life of Pets (2016) was a children’s film about pets living in a New York apartment building.
But those who watched it saw how heartwarming it was when Max the terrier (Patton Oswalt) learned to accept new dog Duke (Eric Stonestreet) after a series of misadventures.
This sequel, which is also production company Illumination’s 10th animated feature, picks up the story of Max and Duke a couple of years later.
Their owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) now married and mother to toddler Liam. Max is so devoted to Liam that he is obsessed with protecting the child from everything. This results in Max developing a nervous tic.
During a family trip to a farm belonging to Katie’s uncle, Max and Duke meet Rooster (Harrison Ford making his animated film debut).
This brave and tough farm dog – who not only keeps the farm animals in line, but also wolves at bay – soon has the city dogs in awe.
Back home, Pomeranian Gidget (Jenny Slate), who has been entrusted with Max’s favourite toy, must retrieve it when it ends up in an apartment filled with cats. Here, scene-stealing fat feline Chloe (Lake Bell) delivers some of the best moments of the movie.
Meanwhile, Snowball the bunny (Kevin Hart) – the wannabe villain in the first movie – now believes he is a superhero, leading to Shih Tzu Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) asking his help to save a baby tiger.
How Gidget and Snowball overcome their fear is comical, but Max overcoming his fears carries a deeper meaning which will resonate with the viewers.
This is a fun film with memorable characters.