Picture the scene: Illumination writing room, circa 2017.
Plans are well underway for the TV spinoff of “The Secret Life Of Pets” and the team have broken down around a dozen shorts to fill up the schedules when suddenly the word comes down that the studio have decided they want a theatrical sequel instead. Writer 1: Okay, shall we start from scratch?
Writer 2: *shrugs* Nah, it’s nearly lunch, let’s just jam the ideas together until we hit the magic 90-minute mark.
Writer 1: Done. Let’s get lunch.
Now you might be thinking from the above that I’m not too enamoured of “The Secret Life Of Pets 2” but, in actual fact, I enjoyed it quite a bit more than the first one. Oh, its nowhere near being a cohesive and satisfying story but the loosely connected short cartoons which prop up its three main storylines (Gidget losing Max’s favourite toy, Max confronting his urban anxiety on a trip to a farm and ‘Captain’ Snowball rescuing a mistreated tiger from a Russian Circus) are, in and of themselves, amusing and entertaining in equal measure.
Even though the humour isn’t particularly ground-breaking or original, stemming mostly from cliched jokes about pet ownership and the various pets’ individual neuroses (which stand in for actual personalities), the film still manages to provoke more than a few laugh out loud moments and the voice cast, including newcomers Tiffany Haddish and Harrison Ford fit in well. The animation is as polished and adorable as we’ve come to expect from Illumination and the overall effect is a package that’s harmlessly entertaining and perfect family fun for the half term holidays.