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A few years back, I watched The Secret Life of Pets in theaters. Thought it was okay, despite the fact that it was basically a rip-off of Toy Story.
Before I walked into this movie, I had some mixed feelings about it, simply because I don't think Illumination makes quality movies at all, and they rely too much on entertaining children instead of the whole family. And now that I've seen this movie... here are my thoughts.
Here We Go!
The Secret Life of Pets 2 is an animated comedy adventure written by Brian Lynch and directed by Chris Renaud. This is a sequel to the 2016 film, The Secret Life of Pets.
And in my reviews, this is where I would give you the general premise of the movie. I usually do that. Today, I'm not going to do that. Not because I don't want to. But because I actually can't.
I am gonna jump right into this review by stating my biggest problem with this movie: it doesn't have a story. This movie has NO STORY. There is no central conflict, no obstacles for Max to face, and absolutely no substance.
There are essentially three separate storylines in this movie. The first one involves Max and Duke going on a trip to the farm. They don't really do much here. They see some animals. They meet a dog voiced by Harrison Ford. Max learns a bit about bravery. That's it.
We then have a storyline with Snowball and a dog named Daisy, who go on an adventure to save a tiger from the circus. And we have a storyline where Gidget needs to get a ball back from a house full of cats.
That's the "story." There is no real story, because this movie is essentially three of those little 11-minute animated TV cartoon segments all spliced together inside a movie. There isn't any main conflict that all of the characters need to resolve. We just have three episodes of The Twilight Zone playing at the same time.
The final 20 minutes of the movie are just a last-ditch attempt to tie together all of the storylines, but it's done with very little charm or fun, and it seems recycled from the big finale of Paddington 2.
If you watched the marketing for this film, you'll notice that they made trailers for each character. That's because this film simply doesn't have one focused narrative; instead, it's all over the place, and by watching the ACTUAL trailers, you can tell.
Also, the original Secret Life mainly focused on the dynamic between Max and Duke and how they learn to like each other over the course of a day. It had some fun to it, but this movie throws a lot of this fun out the window.
This movie doesn't take the characters of Max and Duke to any new places. They aren't given any new interesting character moments. Duke is sidelined to just being the best friend, and he is COMPLETELY useless. You could take Duke out of this movie and it would not make a difference.
In this film, Max mainly interacts with Ford's character, a dog named Rooster. This film's weak attempt at a character arc involves Max learning to be more brave.
But hold on—when did this series ever establish Max as a sissy? That wasn't a part of the first film at all. It's barely even in this film. Like I said, this was a very weak attempt at having Max "grow" as a character when all he does in this movie is save a sheep and howl at the moon with Rooster.
This movie also begins with a monologue by Max where we find out their owner, Katie, has a baby, and he starts off not liking the baby, but over time, he warms up to her child. THAT was the movie I wanted to see. I wanted to see THAT character arc.
His monologue also does not connect to the story at all. Katie's child has no purpose or function in this film's story. Max is basically scared for the child's safety, but nothing he learns throughout the film should really change how he feels about wanting to keep the child safe. Max's journey and what he wants for the kid barely connect at all.
None of the supporting characters are very interesting either. They're all disposable and have no memorable character traits. This film doesn't bring them anywhere new. They, like Duke, could be removed from the film without changing a thing.
This movie also has the NERVE to give us a villain. Does this villain have any sort of depth or anything memorable? No. I'm surprised they didn't animate a giant curled mustache on this guys face.
I genuinely don't know what they were thinking with this villain. He's given no depth at all (much like the rest of the film) and nothing funny either. I couldn't have cared less when he was vanquished because he barely did anything that really made me want to see him lose.
Now, what about the comedy in this movie? When I saw the first trailer for this movie, I was surprised by how funny I thought it was.
Turns out the funniest parts of the movie are in the trailers. There really isn't anything very funny at all in this movie. Sometimes, it's hard to tell if they're actually trying to be funny. Other times, I write jokes in my head and imagine how much better this movie would have been if they had included my jokes.
A lot of the comedic timing just doesn't quite work. There are a lot of parts that could have been genuinely funny had they just stretched the joke out a little longer. The theater was filled with kids. They weren't laughing. There were basically no laugh-out-loud scenes in this film.
So what is this movie? It's three little unfunny Looney Tunes episodes all cut together with no character arcs or interesting characters. It has no central conflict, themes, or anything of substance. The villain is as weak as they could have made it. It's a completely forgettable film.
But I don't hate this movie. I have not talked about the film's positives, and I'll do that now. This movie isn't really boring. There is fun to be had in some scenes here and there. The lack of an actual conflict weakens the film, but children should enjoy the film simply for the cute talking animals.
It's a blessedly brief film, clocking in at under an hour and a half. It's got a well-intentioned, albeit forgettable message. I can't quite imagine a child hating this movie. I CAN imagine adults hating this movie.
Now, if you want to take your children to see this film, you should. But if you're gonna take them to ONE movie this month, skip this one. I haven't seen Toy Story 4 yet, but I am pretty damn sure it will be better than this film.
I'm gonna give 'The Secret Life of Pets 2' a 6/10.
Just so you know, a 6 out of 10 for me is passable. A C-. A 3 out of 5 stars. 6 out of 10 ratings are generally for trash movies, but watchable trash. Overall, I recommend it to your kids, but I don't think you or any adults will find enjoyment or pleasure in this film.
And that's it for this review. I have to watch the X-Men movies in preparation for Dark Phoenix. Can't wait to watch THAT masterpiece.