The Secret Life of Pets 2 ★★½

While the first The Secret Life of Pets didn't really live up to the whole "Toy Story, but with animals" concept that the marketing promised, the second film falls even further away from that rather than try to improve upon it. Instead, The Secret Life of Pets 2 leans more into the "how much humans affect pets" angle established in the first film for better or worse. The better is that the movie allows for the owners of these marquee pets, namely Max (now voiced by Patton Oswalt), to grow up which in turn forces the pets to mature as well. In the interim between the first and second film Max's owner meets someone, gets married, and has a child and as we all know-children change things. Much of the film clings to the joke of playing the pets as parents themselves with Max immediately defaulting to the overprotective type, but gets serious when he goes on a journey of self-discovery with a little help from Rooster (Harrison Ford) as he gains the experience that teaches him that if he can learn to be brave that he can help teach his little human counterpart to be brave as well.

There's a nice little commentary in there about parents being more afraid of letting their child experience the world than the child is to actually experience it while conveying the always welcome lesson of *balance* being the key to success with anything in life and does so in such a genial way that it's hard not to appreciate the movie. The worse though, is that the product as a whole ends up feeling more like creator and Illumination Entertainment mastermind Chris Renaud struggled to find a way to integrate the entirety of his original cast of characters into a single narrative and thus turned this sequel into a melding of three different character shorts that he collides into a more nonsensical conclusion than the entirety of Snowball's (Kevin Hart) completely nonsensical story arc. I mean, I like Tiffany Haddish as much as the next person, but her addition as Daisy here feels as if she was added just so she could be added to the cast roster.

Also, I'm not one, but I imagine cat people are severely offended by how their feline friends are represented here.