Illumination Studios' “The Secret Life of Pets 2” once again gives us humans a glimpse into what our pets get up to when we leave the house but this time the adventure (well one of them, anyway) moves to the countryside where new exploits await terrier Max (voiced by Patton Oswalt) and mutt Duke (voiced by Eric Stonestreet).
Directed by Chris Renaud and Jonathan de Val, “Pets 2” begins back in New York City where Max’s owner, Katie (voiced by Ellie Kemper), throws a wrench into his spoiled existence by getting married and having a baby boy, Liam (voiced by Henry Lynch). If you’ve ever introduced your new baby to your pet, you’ll surely smile at the sequence in which Baby Liam learns to play with Max and Duke. As Liam progresses into toddlerhood, Max becomes Liam’s self-appointed protector and gets totally stressed out trying to make sure that the child is never in danger.
When the family heads upstate, Duke loves every minute of the vast country while Max only sees all the potential hazards that could harm Liam. Enter the film’s greatest asset, Welsh sheepdog Rooster (voiced by Harrison Ford), who lords it over the whole farm. He’s also the voice of wisdom and teaches Max (and the kids watching) many lessons.
Meanwhile, back in New York, audience favorite, Snowball (voiced by Kevin Hart), imagines himself a superhero destined for great things beyond being a fluffy little bunny. As his alter ego Captain Snowball, he joins shih tzu Daisy (voiced by Tiffany Haddish) in a daring plot to rescue a bashful tiger being held against his will. The majority of laughs, however, come from pomeranian Gidget (voiced by Jenny Slate) and her escapades. You see, Max has entrusted his favorite squeaky toy, Busy Bee, to her but before long it bounces down the fire escape into the apartment of the building’s crazy cat lady. Gidget enlists tabby cat Chloe (voiced by Lake Bell) to give her cat lessons so she can infiltrate and retrieve Busy Bee.
Max (voice of Patton Oswalt) and Gidget (voice of Jenny Slate) in "The Secret Life of Pets 2" (Illumination)
“The Secret Life of Pets 2” provides much fun for its young target audience and also a little bit of inspiration for their parents. There’s so much fear in today’s world that sometimes people speak of not wanting to bring kids into it. It’s different today than when kids were able to walk to school on their own or play out in the front yard with minimal supervision and still be safe. Sometimes parents can experience nostalgia for the “good old days” while stifling their kids out of fear that they’ll be hurt. Absolutely, it’s important to keep our kids safe, but just like Max learned from making mistakes and falling down, so we adults need let go of our fear and remember to allow our kids fall and fail so that they also learn to get up again.