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'The Secret Life of Pets 2' improves upon the original's cuteness

(from left) Duke (Eric Stonestreet), Max (Patton Oswalt) and Rooster (Harrison Ford) in Illumination's "The Secret Life of Pets 2," directed by Chris Renaud. (Photo: Universal Pictures)

The Secret Life of Pets 2
3 out of 5 Stars
Chris Renaud, Jonathan del Val
Writer: Brian Lynch
Starring: Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Harrison Ford
Genre: Comedy, Animated
Rated: PG for some action and rude humor

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: Max’s life is disrupted when his owner, Katie, gets married and has a child. Gidget loses Max’s favorite toy in an apartment full of cats. Snowball sets out to rescue a white tiger from a circus.

Review: Released in July of 2016 “The Secret Life of Pets” was a massive success making $875 million worldwide against a budget of $75. A sequel was inevitable. I wasn’t particularly enamored with the film believing that it was a pale imitation of “Zootopia” and the Toy Story franchise.

I did, however, reluctantly acknowledge that it was cute. You can get pretty far on cute these days.

If you can’t tell from the synopsis, “The Secret Life of Pets 2” feels like three short films (or television shows) that have been sewn together to make a feature-length film. They’re loosely related, eventually coming together in the third for a happy ending that isn’t surprising, but manages to satisfy nonetheless. That’s more than the first film could claim.

My favorite of the the storylines follows Max (Patton Oswalt replacing Louis C.K.) and Duke (Eric Stonestreet) heading to the countryside with their owners and child. While there, Max is schooled in the ways of country life by Rooster (Harrison Ford), a no-nonsense farm dog.

Gidget’s (Jenny Slate) storyline is pretty much an excuse to explore the world of an old cat lady. There’s a lot of material to be mined from the bizarre habits of cats and their owners. It’s amusing, but it feels like an unnecessary diversion.

Snowball’s (Kevin Hart) storyline gets the most attention and serves as the through story that eventually brings all of the storylines together as the excitable rabbit embarks on a mission to save a white tiger from a villainous and cruel circus master. Seeing as Snowball is my least favorite character, I would have happily spent more time in the country with Max and Rooster.

“The Secret Life of Pets 2” is better than the original, but it feels fragmented. I would have preferred that the film commit to one major storyline rather than splitting its characters up (there’s also an extended exposition about how Max’s life changes when his owner has a baby that could have easily been a short film).

Kids will enjoy it and ultimately that’s probably all that really matters.