Anxiety-prone Jack Russell Terrier Max (Patton Oswalt) is worried for the safety of his human, Liam, who will soon be off to preschool and without Max to protect him. Max also finds himself entangled in a half-dozen secondary storylines centering on a lost chew toy, a boot camp for puppies and a fugitive white tiger pursued by an abusive circus ringmaster (Nick Kroll).
It’s a lot to pack into an 87-minute movie, and, with three protagonists and a half-dozen major plot threads, there’s rarely time to build a sense of gravity. What will happen if the hero fails? Why should we care? All conventional movies must answer these questions, kids’ movies included. We remember films like “The Lion King” and “Toy Story” as much for their drama as for their comedy or musical numbers. “The Secret Life of Pets 2” is usually too busy zipping from one harmless pratfall to another to show us why the actions of its heroes matter.
“The Secret Life of Pets 2” is rarely crass or unpleasant, and is mercifully short on jokes centering on defecation, farting or blows to the groin. It gives us visuals that are radiant and cozy — its Manhattan looks like something you’d build in a mobile game. The climactic sequence, pitting superhero bunny Snowball (Kevin Hart) against a devilish juggling monkey, shows a delightful flair for action. Perhaps it’s enough that this pleasant but disposable film will succeed in amusing children without annoying their parents.
“The Secret Life of Pets 2” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube Movies.