- Chris Renaud’
- Run Time
- 1 hour and 26 minutes
VP Content Ratings
- Sex & Nudity
- Star Rating
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die…a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;a time to seek, and a time to lose;a time to keep, and a time to throw away.
Change in life is an underlying theme of director Chris Renaud’s two animated Secret Life of Pets films. In the first film jack russell terrier Max (Patton Oswalt) was upset when his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) brought home a second dog, the much larger and shaggier Duke (Eric Stonestreet). Not only did he not count on getting to like the mutt, but also that Katie’s (Chris Renaud) love was big enough to include them both.
In the new film, Max’s life is changed when Katie marries and has a baby. From what Max had seen of kids on his daily walks he wanted nothing to do with the ear-pulling little humans. Then Liam is born, and after a shaky start, Max soon discovers what great love a toddler can lavish on a pet, as well as call forth the desire to protect. Instead of running and hiding from the infant, he becomes like a helicopter parent to the little one, constantly worrying about all the dangers that could befall his precious Liam. This continues even when the family packs up for a vacation visit to Uncle Jack’s farm. Indeed, this being very unfamiliar territory for the city-bred dog, Max’s fears make him even more over-protective. Fortunately the herding dog, Rooster (Harrison Ford) is on hand to set Max more at ease and lead him out of his anxieties.
The film includes two other stories, one involving the little Pomeranian Gidget (Jenny Slate) and another the insecure bunny Snowball (Kevin Hart). Before leaving for the farm vacation, Max had entrusted his favorite squeaky toy, Busy Bee, to Gidget during his absence. Of course, the little toy bounces away down the fire escape into the feline-filled apartment of the building’s Cat Lady (Meredith Salenger), and so cat Chloe (Lake Bell), pug Mel (Bobby Moynihan), and dachshund Buddy (Hannibal Buress) team up with Gidget to find and return Max’s cherished toy. The other tale centers on the bunny Snowball (Kevin Hart), imagining himself as the superhero ”Captain Snowball” who joins with the brave Shih Tzu Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) to rescue a kidnapped white tiger cub from the clutches of the evil circus owner Sergei (Nick Kroll).
There is plenty of high jinx action and laughs for young and old in the film. Of all the characters Max probably changes the most, from “hating” kids in the prelude to learning to love Katie’s child Liam, and later, from fretting and over-protecting the little one to relaxing and enjoying life with Liam and friends. On the farm it is the herding dog Rooster who helps Max get over his anxiety concerning Liam, as we see in this exchange gleaned from IMDB’s website:
Rooster: Why is the kid in a cage? Is there something wrong with him? Does he have the fever?
Max: That’s Liam. He likes to run.
Rooster: So let him run.
Max: Well, Liam’s super fast. We blink and he’s up a tree.
Rooster: So then your kid’s up a tree? What’s the problem?
Max: Well, he could fall.
Rooster: He might.
Max: And he hurts himself.
Rooster: So he got really high up in this hypothetical tree.
Max: I, uh…
Rooster: He gets hurt, he learns not to do it again. You know how many electric cords I’ve chewed?
Max: Like, multiple cords?
Rooster: One. It shocked me. Walked backwards for a week, but I never chewed another cord again.
Near the end of the film Max imparts to young and old his hard-won wisdom about things changing. “You have two choices. Run from it, or run at it.” For a nation so fearful of change this is pretty good for a cartoon.
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