When my screening for "The Secret Life of Pets 2" began, the words 'Enjoy the movie or whatever' appeared on the screen. As soon as I saw that, I started to get a little worried since the joke really didn't make me laugh. After seeing the film, I walked out of it once feeling pretty confused and honestly not laughing. While I thought the first film was genuinely crazy and slightly decent, I didn't really see much rewatch value in it. Still, though, it was far from the worst film that Illumination made and I was hoping that the sequel would work out a lot better and have some funny laughs in it. This film, however, didn't work for me though. It's honestly pretty unfunny and really a mess which is kind of a shame since I know Illumination could make a fun movie. It just didn't happen with this sequel though.
As far as the plot goes, there really isn't one coherent one. It's really three subplots that are thrown together and passed off as a movie. The first focuses on Max (Patton Oswalt) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet) going on a vacation to a farm where Katie and her new husband Chuck and their son Liam are visiting relatives. While there, Max learns to conquer his fears with the help of the farm dog named Rooster (Harrison Ford). The second subplot focuses on Gidget (Jenny Slate) guarding Max's favorite toy only to end up losing it and finding out that it has fallen into the apartment of a crazy cat lady. With the help of her cat friend Chloe (Lake Bell), Gidget learns how to be a cat so she can get the toy and get out of that apartment in one piece. The final subplot involves Snowball (Kevin Hart) and a dog named Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) rescuing a Siberian tiger from a circus and trying to find out where to hide it while avoiding the evil circus owner (Nick Kroll) and his wolves. That's really all there is to it with this movie and it doesn't exactly work that way.
I do like films that are in someway episodic, but in order for them to work, the plots all need to tie together in some way and unfortunately, these subplots don't tie together into a main plot at all. I had a feeling Illumination really was struggling to come up with a plot to this movie. Say what you want about the first film, even though it did rip off the plot of "Toy Story", it still had a plot you could follow and the subplots tied together in some way. Here, they just skip all over the place and honestly feel that had they been made separately as shorts, they might've worked better. Putting them together just made the movie seem like a mess. If I had to rank the subplots though, the one with Max on the farm was the best while the one involving Snowball and the circus was the worst. I would've probably forgiven this film had it at least been funny, but it's sadly not. The jokes all fall flat and I really didn't get a chuckle from any of the characters save for Rooster. He did make me genuinely laugh while watching the movie, though I can attribute that to Harrison Ford's performance. He really does make most things that he's in entertaining. Yet I wished there was more of him. I feel had Ford been in the movie more often, it might've been at least entertaining, but since the film has that subplot storyline, he's only in the scenes with Max and the farm which happen every so often. Some of the other jokes in the film include Chloe the cat getting high on catnip, discovering she can make purring noises while "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane is playing in the background and it just made me roll my eyes. The characters were also nothing special as well. They moved the plot along and they said some jokes, and that was about it. There's really nothing else about them that makes them stand out in any way, shape, or form. Daisy was a pretty pointless character overall. She did nothing to enhance the subplot involving the circus and pretty much blended into the background. As I said, Rooster did get some fun laughs, but that was it. As far as other praiseworthy things go, the animation once again looked good. It's expected from an Illumination movie, but it does look genuinely bright and colorful and I did like the look of New York City. Also, there was a fun scene where the animation takes on a hand-drawn/CG hybrid for one of Snowball's superhero dreams, but it only appeared in the movie once and never again. It was a real shame we didn't see more of it.
And a real shame is what I can describe "The Secret Life of Pets 2" as. The story was a mess and badly constructed, the animation was bright and colorful but I wanted more of certain elements, and the characters all were bland and didn't stand out save for Rooster. If you were a fan of the first film and are curious to see where Max and his friends go off to next, then I guess you'll enjoy it. Other than that though, I feel it's better off waiting for "Toy Story 4". That movie can't come soon enough.