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“Secret Life of Pets 2” is as meh as meh gets


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Movies that are just kind of ok or just fine are so hard to write about. You can’t really gush about how good the movie is, but you also can’t gleefully tear it to shreds. And, unfortunately, there are A LOT of meh movies – movies that aren’t good enough to really engage you but not incompetent enough to be funny or memorable.

“The Secret Life of Pets 2” is just this kind of movie. It does some good things. It does some lame things. In fact, I’m going to forego the usual review. I’m gonna break this down into a list of this movies biggest pros and cons.

Pro: Max’s Character Arc

The main story of “Pets 2” concerns Max (Patton Oswalt) fearing how dangerous the outside world is and overcoming those fears. That’s good character building and makes Max more fleshed-out and relatable. Unfortunately…

Con: Story Structure

The first “Pets” movie was clearly a “Toy Story” knock-off yet the folks behind “Pets” don’t seem to have learned much from those Pixar classics. That’s particularly obvious in the way “Pets 2” undercuts its most important storyline.

“Pets 2” is split into three separate major storylines that meet in the end. Unfortunately, Max’s storyline suffers as it gets condensed and cut down. We get most of the major story beats, but we could use a few scenes of Max developing. We don’t and that makes the way it’s resolve feel too easy and not earned.

Pro: It’s a Pretty Movie

Animated movies are usually bright and colorful, but there are sights and scenes in “Pets 2” that still stand out from the rest of the animated cinema pack. In particular, the scenes that take place on the farm are lush and pretty. Rooster (more in him in a minute) hangs out on an old, broken-down pick-up truck that’s surrounded by wildflowers. That’s an especially beautiful visual.

Con: The Jokes

The jokes in this movie are retreads of jokes that are so old, they’ve grown big, grey, hairy beards. Jokes about how cats are psychotic? Old joke. Scary birds? Old joke. You get the picture.

“Pets 2” isn’t completely devoid of laughs. A few of the jokes land and there a gag involving a laser pointer that’s actually kind of brilliant. But for the most part, the humor in “Pets 2” doesn’t do much to flavor up this bland cinematic dish.

Pro: Harrison Ford

The best part of this movie is Rooster, the venerable farm dog voiced by Harrison Ford. While the cast features some good words from the likes of Oswalt, Kevin Hart and Jenny Slate, Ford’s gravitas-filled turn is the one performance really makes an impression. The writing really damages his relationship with Max, but Ford takes a cliched mentor character and makes that character shine.

Con: It’s Boring!

The greatest sin a movie can commit is being boring and “Pets 2” is guilty of this as it gets. Whether it’s due to cliched storytelling, bland characters or forgettable action, this movie is rarely engaging. Rooster’s scenes break through the boredom and Hu the Tiger is too adorable to ignore, but most of this movie is a snooze.

Overall, “The Secret Lives of Pets 2” isn’t the worst movie ever. Kids and fans of the first film will probably enjoy it. But it probably won’t win over any new fans and was so boring, I probably would have fallen asleep if I wasn’t there for work.

2 ½ Indy Fedoras out of 5

MPAA Rating: PG