WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
Max the terrier must cope with some major life changes when his owner gets married and has a baby. When the family takes a trip to the countryside, nervous Max has numerous run-ins with canine-intolerant cows, hostile foxes and a scary turkey. Luckily for Max, he soon catches a break when he meets Rooster, a gruff farm dog who tries to cure the lovable pooch of his neuroses.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
The Secret Life of Pets 2 is the sequel to the 2016 children's animation, about what pets do when their humans aren't home, and as an (extreme) dog-lover, the creators knew exactly how to pull at my heartstrings!
The story picks up where we left off, and follows Max (Patton Oswalt) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet) on a new life journey, as their owner gets married, and welcomes a baby boy.
Together the two have the navigate the tricky waters that come with the addition of a new family member, but once the family settle into a new routine, Max gets fixated on keeping his human-brother safe.
He develops an obsessive-compulsive disorder, and during an out-of-city trip to the farm, he meets a brave sheepdog, Rooster (Harrison Ford), who (grudgingly) brings out Max's more courageous side, and teaches him to let go of his worries.
In addition to Max's storyline, two other subplots run concurrently.
One where Snowball (Kevin Hart) and Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) work together on saving a caged tiger from the circus, and another where Giget (Jenny Slate) strikes up an unusual friendship with a clowder of cats.
All the sub-plots then come together at the end of the movie, where all the animals put their newly learned abilities to test in one final adventure.
In the first movie, the creators ever so slightly tiptoed around more adult themes and pushed the envelope when it came to language, and humour but this time around I felt the tone to be significantly more mature.
At one point in the movie, the bad guy gestures with a tazor towards a distressed tiger cub whips the animal and also points a gun at the pets. There is also a scene where Chloe (Lake Bell) gets "high" on catnip and Gidget has romantic thoughts about Max.
I overheard some parents, who did not care for the drug reference, or the romantic reference.
Instead I found the children responded with a loud: "Eeeeeeew" to Gidget's passionate daydream.
I was in a cinema with a large group of children, and they didn't seem bothered with the darker content, but a sensitive child who scares easily could react negatively to the scenes depicting animal abuse.
The movie also contains plenty of scenes of slapstick violence, but the children in the audience enjoyed it very much, erupting with laughter when someone falls down a flight of stairs.
And I, a 30-year-old, was laughing just as loud as them!
I found the message very helpful, and I can see children learning from Max's experiences, especially those that are overwhelmed by new surroundings, or nervous in certain situations.
There is also a very positive LGBTQ message, as a stand-alone scene with the credits, which I found refreshing, and I appreciated.