Pup psychology

Pup psychology

Review: The Secret Life of Pets 2
(PG) Patton Oswalt, Harrison Ford, Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is the second installment of the latest animated franchise from Illumination, the studio that introduced the world to Despicable Me and The Minions. This adventure reintroduces the Jack Russell terrier named Max (Patton Oswalt) and his hairy friend, Duke (Eric Stonestreet). Along with their owner Katie (Ellie Kemper), who live in an active apartment block in Manhattan. Audiences were shown the imaginative life of pets when their humans step out for the day and what these animal friends get up to when left to their own devices. Each floor of the apartment block introduced us to other memorable characters such as the white Pomeranian, Gidget (Jenny Slate), the overweight tabby named Chloe (Lake Bell), and Snowball (Kevin Hart) the unforgettable rabbit who all live in the neighbouring units. 

Over the past few years, there have been dynamic changes for Max and Duke. Katie is now married to Chuck (Pete Holmes) and they have brought a delightful new child into the world named Liam. Understandably, Max has become very protective of the little boy as he grows from baby to toddler and he is now on the precipice of the next stage of his young life, childcare. Through each step of Liam’s development, the little Jack Russell’s love and concern for the boy leads Max to become overprotective and anxious. He worries about the dangers that might await Liam as he steps out of the safety of their home. After Katie takes the neurotic little dog to visit a veterinarian who specialises in behavioural psychology for pets, the couple decides to take the whole family out of the city to spend a few days away on an uncle’s farm.

At this point, the story takes three different paths for these beloved four-legged friends. The first follows Max and Duke on the farm meeting the old sheepdog Rooster (Harrison Ford) who tries to help Max with his fears and anxiety. While back at the apartment block, Gidget tries to rescue Max’s favourite squeak-toy from an apartment inhabited by an old cat lady and her horde of felines. Then the less than probable, but action-packed dimension of the film has Snowball meeting a Shih-Tzu named Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) and their efforts to rescue a white tiger named Hu from a cruel circus owner. Then in traditional cinematic form, the writers manage to bring the three different storylines together for the final exciting act of the movie.  

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is designed for families with young children and the pet owners of the world who will appreciate the humorous depiction of their furry friend’s characters. The highlights of the film would include Max’s visit to the vet where he is introduced to several pets with varying degrees of behavioural issues, Gidget’s dealings with the cat ladies band of felines and her attempts to retrieve Max’s toy. Then the cute factor lifts a whole new degree during the scene of puppies being schooled in the ways of being a ‘good pet’ by an old Basset Hound named Pops (Dana Carvey).

Although this film could be enjoyed without seeing the original, it would be worthwhile familiarising yourself with the characters and some of the returning pets. What could it hurt to sit down with the kids and your pets to watch the original before attending this film? Then go into the screening with the understanding that the plot is a bit contrived and unbelievable. But the film is still entertaining and provides an acceptable sequel for fans who will most likely sit up and beg for another instalment in the coming years. 

Looking Deeper

Max’s anxiety grew from his concern about the dangers that could be lurking in the big world for Liam when he leaves home to go to childcare. As parents or people looking ahead to the adventure of parenthood, it is easy to be fearful of what waits for our children in the future. 

One of the benefits of engaging with the Bible is that it shows that God is the one who is in control of the past, present and future. He has had a grand plan since the beginning that involved Jesus coming into this world and dying on the cross and then rising to life again to return again in the future. For those who struggle with worry, doubt and anxiety, the reality of putting your trust and faith in a God who is in control will do more than just calm your nerves, it will provide peace everlasting.

Want to find out more? 2 Corinthians 4:18; 1 John 5:14-15; Isaiah 40:31; Isaiah 41;10

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is in cinemas now.

Russell Matthews works for City Bible Forum Sydney and is a film blogger 


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