This week’s film is “The Secret Life of Pets 2”, the sequel of the 2016 animated peek at what pets do when their owners take off for the day. The first film was surprisingly good, bouncing back and forth between owner and pet perspective. In this round, the ever-versatile comedian Patton Oswalt replaces embattled Louis C. K. as Max, the leader of the city pets who take on “Toy Story”-like adventures once left alone. Max’s life is turned upside down when his owner Katie meets the love of her life, inevitably leading to the one thing surpassing the horror of a vacuum or sealed garbage can in a pet’s life- a baby. Max’s initial annoyance with the new household member quickly yields to a protective anxiety. Anxiety then transforms to humiliation when a well-intentioned counseling session aimed at stopping Max’s anxious scratching leads to the dreaded doggie medical cone around Max’s neck. Needless to say, the cone creates some of the funniest scenes in the film. Eventually, Max’s owners decide a change of scenery will benefit all, so they head off for a family vacation to a relative’s farm. At the farm, Max meets Rooster, the proverbial barnyard dog voiced by Harrison Ford. In his first voice roll, Harrison Ford knocks it out of the park doing his best Sam Elliott impersonation dispensing farm wisdom. Back in the city, Max’s neighbors Snowball, a precocious bunny voiced by Kevin Hart and Gidget, Max’s love interest voiced by Jenny Slate, run into their own trouble holding down the fort. But the real star of this assembly of animal want to be heroes is an overindulgent cat named Chloe, voiced by Lake Bell. Chloe has to teach Gidget how to be a cat and she doesn’t miss a beat in capturing the essence of the feline indifferent and baffling personality.
So, on my ski trail rating system, “The Secret Life of Pets 2” earns my intermediate BLUE ski trail rating. Kids will predictably enjoy this second round more than adults, except perhaps for cat haters. Since it is the sequel eagerly anticipated by no one, “The Secret Life of Pets 2” benefits from low expectations and successfully exceeds them with some pretty good baby humor, feline bashing, and a sage life lesson. And with slim offerings under the PG13 rating, “The Secret Life of Pets 2” serves as a much-needed early season family offering that serves up just enough laughs to deliver audiences a taste of “Toy Story 4” due out this week.
“The Secret Life of Pets 2” is rated PG for action, rude humor and pet cross dressing. The Friday Film Review is sponsored by the Park City Film.