The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019)
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As a synthesis, this second opus is ultra-vitamin!
I love the movie!!! It's soo funny and cute watching all these pets solving their problems together as an animal lover!-Sean's son
See the movie if you want fun and happiness.
Looking back at the first film, I still find it cute for its interesting premise, colorful animation, catchy musical score and a cast of memorable, side characters. My only issue(s) were that the plot was predictable and Max & Duke, while not intolerable, didn't leave much an impression for me.
However, my expectations began to blossom ever since the marketing for the sequel came out. After months of anticipation, the movie took me by surprise on how much it improved.
The sequel has three stories: 1. After Katie got married and has a son, Max (Patton Oswalt) became overprotective of his new playmate and must learn to overcome his fears. 2. Gidget (Jenny Slate) tries to rescue Max's favorite toy from an apartment room full of cats. 3. Reformed villain Snowball (Kevin Hart) dons a superhero alter-ego and must save a tiger from an abusive circus owner (Nick Kroll).
In hindsight, the plot would sound like a mess and have a lack of focus on which story to follow. In practice, however, the stories intertwine pretty well and does deliver an entertaining and intense climax in the third act. The plot is one of the major improvements over the original. The stories are more character-driven and sticks more close to the title of the franchise more than Max & Duke's buddy-comedy journey, which took majority of the first. The comedy is also a set-up from the predecessor where the jokes are more hit than miss. In fact, laughed out more than chuckling a few times in the past.
One of the highlights of any Illumination movie is the animation. Sure, some may argue that the Illumination animation quality and the character designs are too simplistic and doesn't visually stand out comparing to other animation studios. As an animator myself, I sense that the animators continue using heavy emphasis on shape on the animals' design that are executed well in their movements and humor. You can tell the animators had fun referencing how the animals move and behave, and animate them to their full potential. As for the setting for New York City, it retains its colorful appeal from the first film. They also added new scenery to give a different atmosphere from a pet's perspective. It can whether Max & Duke visiting the upstate farmland or Snowball venturing through the carnival fairgrounds. For the latter, it also provided some decent and energized action sequences.
Most of the characters return and they are still likable and funny, thanks to the actors' performances. There are couple of characters worth mentioning. I'll start off with Max. First, he is now voiced by Patton Oswalt replacing Louis C.K. after exposing his...history. He is, for the most part, a fitting replacement. But, there are times when his voice can be a little noticeable since both said actors have different pitches and deliveries. Outside his performance, Max goes through a major character development where he and Duke become friends with Katie's son, Liam. But, Max slowly and progressively becomes brave and less worried. I consider Max to be more likable than he was last time. Snowball went through a major transition from villain to a happily living as a pet while determining to helping others as a superhero (though at times, pretends for fun). As the for the new characters, they are mostly welcoming additions and provide their own charm. The only exception(s) that I felt weren't interesting enough were Katie's husband Chuck and son Liam. Again, not bad characters, they didn't leave much of an impression. On Snowball's side of the plot, we have Daisy, a kind-hearted Shih Tzu who idolizes Snowball's alter-ego and wants to be like him. Hu, the captive white tiger that gives out more personality than words with behaving like a house cat and having a childlike innocence. If I had to pick two of my favorite new additions of the pack, it would be Rooster and Sergei. Rooster (voiced the first time and remarkably well by Harrison Ford) is the farmdog that acts as Max's mentor on how to overcoming fears. I'd classify Sergei as the most menacing villain in Illumination history for his dark and threatening design and nature, comparing to the comedic, over-the-top villains from other movies.
Overall, The Secret of Life of Pets 2 is a major improvement over the first film, thanks to a well-thought out story, appealing animation, good laughs and great performances. If you are an animal lover, Illumination fan, or have kids, I'd definitely recommend this movie. It'll be fun to sit through and a good appetizer before Toy Story 4.
To begin with, there are some serious issues being brought up, such as taking risks or playing safe in the context of upbringing. Should children climb trees to be learnt from their own experience or should we keep them safe from any conceivable risks?
Moreover, not only gags occur throughout the storyline, but some puns or psychological kind of humour as well. And some hilarious characters, such as this crazy cat-lover granny, are not to be neglected. I did burst out laughing with this scene in the vet hall as well with all these "psycho" pets and their utterances.
Little did I guess about the plot development! Ok, I might have foreseen some obvious twists (I cannot tell them here so as to avoid spoilers), but others came rather unexpected, which was something I liked the most. Being bored by all this predictability in movies and cartoons, I could be really amused at last!
And the last but not the least is about the soundtrack which I think fits the cartoon like a glove. It was so pleasant to hear long-forgotten melodies once again in a brand-new context.
I do hope this story will be continued and that it would be done so in an increasingly good fashion. By that I entail that it would not be cursed with such a bane that struck the "Fantastic Beasts 2" or the "Maze runner 3". I distinctly remember how disappointed I felt at the time I was watching those ones and regretting what on earth had happened to my favourite characters!
To sum up, I do recommend going to the cinema and disconnecting for an hour and a half or so with this undoubtedly great cartoon.
Audience will notice that there are sakura trees in the New York City sequence. It is a visual signature of Japanese landscapes in Spring. It sends audience a signal that The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) is not any kind of antithesis to Hayao Miyazaki (1941-) animation films. One the contrary, it is quite harmonious with Miyazaki world and his sprit.
In fact, there is no any barrier between Miyazaki animation fans and Pets fans. Actual protagonists and roles are not humans but all are pets, thus, the story structure is unique and twisted from live action movies. The development of the film story is not concentrated in one character while the main conflict is basically the same. As the result, the pace of the film is pretty slow from beginning to the middle of the entire film. The story is not driven by one protagonist, many characters are in charge of main plots as an ensemble drama. It is also the reason of decentralisation of the story structure. Story Structure ''EXPOSITION'' ACT1: The protagonist Max a Jack Russell Terrier (Patton Oswalt) and its owner Katie (Ellie Kemper )'s family take a road trip to their relative's farm. Inciting Incident is not this change of location from New York to the farm. It is when Max accidentally breaks cattle grid, and some sheep escapes, then farm's tough sheepdog, Rooster decides to retrieve the missing sheep with Max.
End of the ACT1 is when Max successfully retrieves the missing sheep at the cliff, and gets Rooster's trust. At the end, Rooster presents Max his handkerchiefs as symbol of his trust.
''DEVELOPMENT"ACT2: The first half of ACT2 is composed by a conflict around Busy Bee which is a Max's favourite toy left for his girlfriend Gidget (Jenny Slate), a white Pomeranian. Gidget accidentally loses it in one of apartment rooms where infected by bunch of cats and owned by a cat lady (Meredith Salenger). After Chloe (Lake Bell) a morbidly obese and apathetic grey tabby cat trains Gidget on how to be a cat. As the result, not only Gidget successfully retrieves Busy Bee with Plan B ''red dot'', and hailed by bunch of cats as ''queen of cats.'' Midpoint: Chloe and Snowball (Kevin Hart) a white rabbit and former flushed pet meet Daisy (Tiffany Haddish), a Shih Tzu and decide to rescue white tiger named Hu which tortured by the abusive Russian circus owner Sergei.
The rest of the ACT2 is after Daisy and Snowball free Hu to Pops (Dana Carvey) an elderly Basset Hound's apartment, Hu is kicked out from there, thus they hide him at Max's apartment. At the END of ACT2, Max and Duke's family come back from the trip, the Russian circus owner Sergei (Nick Kroll) sends his black wolves to track Daisy down with her flower clip she dropped, and Sergei captures Hu. This is the most dangerous and intensified moment for the characters.
''CONFRONTATION''ACT3: Sergei escapes in train, and Snowball, Max, hamster Norman (Chris Renaud) a guinea pig and Gidget chase the train. Max and Snowball defeat Sergei's monkey and wolves. They kick Sergei off the train, then Gidget knocks him out with the cat lady's car. Finally they free Daisy and Hu. The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) is a good example of Three Act Structure in ensemble drama. It is not so simple like more individualistic structure however it proved that Three Act Structure actually works and fits ensemble drama. This animation film is good for all ages of audience.