The Secret Life of Pets 2 (3 stars)

The Secret Life of Pets 2

Cutesy and chaotic animated sequel that should please kids more than parents

A sequel to the 2016 animated kids' movie about what pets get up to when we're not at home, this picks up the story of New York mutt Max (Patton Oswalt, taking over from disgraced comedian Louis CK). Alongside rescue dog Duke (Eric Stonestreet), Max lives with owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) in an apartment building that is also home to pampered Pomeranian Gidget (Jenny Slate), lazy puss Chloe (Lake Bell) and reformed rabbit Snowball (Kevin Hart).

Katie now has a baby named Liam, who soon becomes Max's best friend, but it's not long before the poor pooch starts suffering from stress as he worries about all the things that could happen to Liam if he doesn't protect him. A trip to a countryside farm may help, especially as it's there that Max meets a wise dog named Rooster (Harrison Ford, in his first animated role) who is pretty unimpressed with Max's helicopter parenting.

Max's life lesson is just one of three plot threads – there's also Snowball and new dog Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) trying to free a tiger cub from a sinister circus owner, and Gidget getting into danger retrieving a special dog toy – woven into a chaotic 86-minutes. Working with new co-helmer Jonathan del Val, returning director Chris Renaud (Despicable Me) delivers chases, evil wolves, meandering sheep and even a fast-paced sequence atop a train that's sure keep junior eyes wide open.

Although Hart's wannabe superhero bunny is a hoot, there's not enough humour, charm or narrative sense here to win over accompanying adults. Nevertheless, kids will have tonnes of fun revelling in the vivid animation and animal antics and, if it was down to your average seven-year-old, the film's cornucopia of cuteness would be worth several stars on its own.

General release from Fri 24 May.

The Secret Life of Pets 2

  • 3 stars
  • 2019
  • USA / Japan / France
  • Directed by: Chris Renaud, Jonathan del Val
  • Cast: Patton Oswalt, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart
  • UK release: 24 May 2019

Max (Oswalt) lives with owner Katie (Kemper) in apartment with other pets Gidget (Slate), Chloe (Bell) and Snowball (Hart); then Max becomes worried about Katie’s new baby Max. There’s not enough humour, charm or sense to win over parents, but kids will enjoy the vivid animation and animal antics.