“The Secret Life of Pets 2” (2019)

Animation

Running time: 86 minutes

Written by: Brian Lynch

Directed by: Chris Renaud

Featuring: Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate, Tiffany Haddish, Lake Bell, Nick Kroll, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Chris Renaud, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan and Harrison Ford

Rooster: “Guy’s got two things in this life: his water bowl and his dignity. You take one, you take the other.”

Released recently on DVD/Blu-ray (alas no 4K) recently is the animated sequel “The Secret Life of Pets 2” (2019) that offers a movie that no-one was asking for as well as being the least likely movie to be caught up in the #metoo era as it featured in a prominent role, Louis C.K. who was replaced by fellow comic Patton Oswalt, not that anyone would actually care about. 

The allure of the first “Secret Life of Pets” (2016), a surprise hit for the animation studio Illumination, known primarily for their ‘Despicable Me’ franchise, were the gags about what our pets did when we weren’t home. The ideas behind how dogs, cats, and birds acted when we were gone, ranging from the appropriately cartoonish to clever in a grounded way, was what made the experience interesting and fun on its own.

The sequel, “The Secret Life of Pets 2”, seems to have been aware of this, so what we get here is a series of vignettes that center on the various characters from the first film, with the addition of some new characters like the fearless dog Daisy voiced by Tiffany Haddish. It’s basically an anthology made up of a number of short films, intercut instead of presented episodically. Only during the forced third act climax do the stories interject, and even then the ending fizzles because the artificiality of bringing these shorts together sticks out.

The most basic “come to terms with your fears” family movie plot comes in the form of the first film’s protagonist Max worrying about his owner’s toddler getting hurt during a vacation at a farm. In comes the obligatory parental figure in the form of the gruff sheepdog Rooster (Harrison Ford, who sounds asleep at the mic), who will eventually teach Max the importance of letting children learn for themselves. It’s a fairly predictable and by-the-numbers story for the genre.

Video

Universal’s Blu-ray edition of “The Secret Life of Pets 2”  is stunning. The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer presents the film in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with vivid colors with no evidence of banding or blooming. Detail is excellent, from the individual strands of fur, textures of skin on the dogs’ noses, blades of grass, to random leaves and cracks in the sidewalk. Contrast is superb with deep blacks and strong shadow detail with no evidence of crushing as well as bright whites that never clip. I found no evidence of any compression artifacts whatsoever.

Audio

Universal has included a Dolby Atmos track on the Blu-ray release (which is backwards compatible to Dolby TrueHD 7.1). The track uses the Atmos capability rather subtly, with a few discrete sounds here and there, but mostly uses the heights to extend and expand the music and atmospherics. Surrounds are very active when necessary (such as the chase sequence though the circus), and LFE is strong, adding a solid low-end to many of the pop songs featured in the film. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout.

Special Features:

  • Super Gidget (1080p; 3:49): Gidget goes on an adventure to save Max from an evil band of squirrels. Presented with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio encoded at 640 kbps.
  • Minion Scouts (1080p; 4:04): Jealous of the badges Margo, Agnes and Edith earned at Badger Scouts camp, minions Stuart, Kevin, Bob and Dave sign up to try and earn their own badges. Presented with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio encoded at 640 kbps.
  • The Making of the Mini-Movies (1080p; 4:59): The directors of Super Gidget and Minion Scouts discuss making the movies.
  • Deleted Scenes (1080p; 2:19): Four scenes are included, Wake Up, Duke Explores the Farm, Snowball in Trainingand Secret Confessions, with only Duke Explores the Farm and Secret Confessions in completed animation form.
  • A Tapestry of a Tail – The Making of (1080p; 7:00): A very brief and fluffy (pun intended) look at the making of the film.
  • How to Draw (1080p; 7:40): Head of Story Eric Favela shows viewers how to draw Max, Snowball and Chloe.
  • Frame by Frame – How to Make a Flip Book (1080p; 4:25): As the title suggests, Head of Story Eric Favela shows the viewer how to make their own flip book.
  • Character Pods (1080p; 16:40): The voice actors discuss their characters in the film – Paton Oswalt – Max, Kevin Hart – Snowball, Eric Stonestreet – Duke, Jenny Slate – Gidget, Tiffany Haddish – Daisy, Lake Bell – Chloe, Nick Kroll – Sergei, Dana Carvey – Pops, Bobby Moynihan – Mel and Harrison Ford – Rooster.
  • My Buddy and Me (1080p; 3:28): The cast and crew discuss their pets.
  • The Further Adventures of Captain Snowball (1080p; 6:32): An interactive motion comic adventure featuring Captain Snowball.
  • Pets with Jobs – A Documentary (1080p; 7:10): A look at how various animals help humans by being more than just pets.
  • A Party Fit For a Pet (1080p; 7:19): How to make all the necessary items for the perfect pet party – Captain Snowball’s Super Capes, Pop’s Pupsicles, Daisy’s Happy Hats, Duke’s Doggie Donuts and Gidget’s Goody Bags.
  • Relax the Cat: The Secret Life of Pet Massage (1080p; 4:21): Dana Carvey, Bobby Moynihan and Lake Bell are joined by pet massage therapist Amber Lockspeiser, as they demonstrate how to properly massage your pet.
  • Pop’s Puppy Training School with Kevin Hart (1080p; 2:28): Kevin Hart demonstrates some simple puppy training techniques.
  • Production Pets (1080p; 5:56): A photo gallery of pets owned by the cast and crew.
  • Pet’s Yule Log (1080p; 2:13): “Security camera” footage of various characters from the film.
  • Panda Lyric Video (1080p; 0:45)
  • It’s Gonna Be a Lovely Day (Secret life of Pets 2) Lyric Video (1080p; 3:55)

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