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THE MOVIE GUY — More silly adventures with family pets

THE MOVIE GUY

Sean McBride

“The Secret Life of Pets2”

Universal Pictures

Rated PG

2 ½ Stars

For the second time in recent memory, I found myself watching a mediocre movie, only to find my cranky critic mentality being utterly vanquished by a theater full of laughing children. The movie was “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” and while I thought that it was just OK, the sea of surrounding 6-year-olds seemed to absolutely love the film.

The kid reaction is the important thing, and they sat in rapt attention, laughing loudly at the goofy characters and silly antics in between fistfuls of popcorn and other sticky snacks. The boy sitting next to me sat forward in his seat for the entire film, never once taking his eyes off the screen. He was literally bouncing off the walls in happiness as his family left the theater.

Me? Not so much.

As I said, I’m not exactly in the film’s target demographic.

“The Secret Life of Pets 2” continues the story of what our household pets do when their humans are away. We get more adventures with the fluffy little bunny (Kevin Hart) who thinks that he is a superhero. He gets a genuine adventure this time out, rescuing a tiger cub from the circus. We also tag along as household two dogs (Patton Oswalt & Eric Stonestreet) take a weekend vacation at a farm where they learn some lessons about being good dogs from an alpha, played by none other than Harrison Ford.

We even get to watch as another dog (Jenny Slate) goes undercover as a cat in order to rescue a beloved chew toy. All of these storylines are mixed in together in order to keep the action from ever flagging. That’s a smart move, given the film’s target audience, but it would have been more effective if any of these mini adventures carried any real consequences for the characters.

The comedy is also on autopilot here, mostly mining laughs from the incongruities between the cute animated characters and the famous actor voices that bring them to life. To their credit, this is a very game cast that absolutely makes the most out of an otherwise ordinary screenplay.

The bottom line for me is that “The Secret Life of Pets 2” recreates much of the magic that made the original film into such a huge box office hit. It’s fun, features some PG-rated scenes of mild peril and has enough energy to keep the kiddos engaged for an hour and a half. Mom and dad (and cranky movie critics) probably won’t be as enthusiastic about the movie, but who are we to complain if a movie made for kids absolutely entertains those kids.

In that respect, “The Secret Life of Pets 2” is a winner, at least until “Toy Story 4” hits theaters in two weeks.

 

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are each week in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@sbgtv.com.

 

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