Max the Terrier (voice of Patton Oswalt) encounters canine-intolerant cows, hostile foxes and a scary turkey when he visits the countryside. Luckily for Max, he soon catches a break when he meets Rooster, a gruff farm dog who tries to cure the lovable pooch of his neuroses.

One of the biggest cinematic mysteries of the past decade is how in the world The Secret Life of Pets managed to gross a whopping $875.5 million at the box office. It’s not a film that was based on an already existing property or game or anything like that, but rather, it was a wholly original animated movie from the people at Illumination Entertainment, who are perhaps best known for their Despicable Me movies. Maybe that’s why the film managed to make so much. Because audiences were familiar with Despicable Me and thought that The Secret Life of Pets would be good. It wasn’t.

But obviously money talks, so a sequel to the animated hit was essentially a given but it is a little bit surprising to me that it took three whole years for a sequel to be made. Going into the film, I wasn’t excited in the slightest bit. It did have one thing going for it, though – they replaced Louis C.K. with Patton Oswalt which was already a win in my book.

Surprisingly enough, The Secret Life of Pets 2 is quite a bit better than the original, but it still isn’t any good in the long run. Yes, it does have more entertaining and comedic moments along the way, but we still aren’t given any character development and are presented with a story that feels more or less the exact same story that we got the first time around. Not to mention that, yet again, this feels way too similar to the story of the Toy Story franchise.

Seeing as how this is an Illumination film, the animation does look absolutely gorgeous. There are really no boring or dull shots anywhere throughout. The vibrant colors of New York City and beyond make the film truly pop with life and beauty. Right down to the individual strands of fur on all the pets, there isn’t a flaw to be found with the animation style here, and the team that worked on every detail deserves huge praise.

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Also, the voice actors are a lot more energetic and excited this time around too, thus making the movie as a whole a little bit more entertaining. Oswalt does a great job at replacing C.K. and makes the role his own. Tiffany Haddish is a new addition to the cast and voices a Shih Tzu named Daisy who is by far one of the funniest characters in the movie. But by far, my favorite new addition is Harrison Ford as a Welsh Sheepdog named Rooster. Hearing Ford lend his iconic voice as a stern but cool character is not only true to who he is in real life but also makes the character he portrays that much more entertaining. No matter what, his voice will simply never get old.

If I’m being honest, listening to the voice actors have fun and seeing the animation were really the only true standouts with The Secret Life of Pets 2. It’s almost ridiculous how similar the story plays out to the first one this time around. There’s almost nothing new added to change things up and feels like a sequel that was made just for the purpose of making some money. They’re probably going to make a third movie in the future, so let’s hope that with that entry, they finally tell a genuinely interesting and exciting story and give our characters some much-needed development.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is certainly an improvement on the original, but it still suffers from drastically weak character development and a story that’s all-too-familiar.

Overall Grade: C-

MPAA Rating: PG for some action and rude humor

Cast: Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate, Tiffany Haddish, Lake Bell, Nick Kroll, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Chris Renaud, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Harrison Ford

Directed by: Chris Renaud

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Release Date: June 7, 2019

Running Time: 86 minutes

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