‘Secret Life of Pets 2’ hits the video market
It had to happen. After a handful of cartoons that over-performed at the box-office, Illumination Entertainment was bound to release a movie that didn’t quite capture the box-office brass ring.
Directed by Parkland grad Chris Renaud, “The Secret Life of Pets 2” (2019, Universal, PG, $25) has brought in about $200 million less than its predecessor. The original, which Renaud also directed, scored $368 million at the box-office in the United States, while the sequel netted $157 million.
Despite its box-office performance, the movie, newly available on DVD, Blu-ray and as a VOD title, is a tail-wagging winner.
Sure, there’s a slightly generic quality to some of the action interludes, but the main storyline about a pooch named Max (Patton Oswalt) coming to grips with his fears about how best to protect his family’s new toddler is both deeply felt and deeply funny at the same time.
From his time on a farm, hanging out with a top dog named Rooster (Harrison
Ford), to his decision to help his old pals (Lake Bell, Jenny Slate, Kevin Hart) save a big circus cat, Max learns how to enjoy life rather than running from it.
The animation is colorful, the script is sharp and there’s lots of humor about how pets bond with their owners. Renaud does a particularly good job of making the characters both believable as action heroes and as authentic cats and dogs who enjoy simple pleasures like riding in cars with the windows down and snacking on pizza rolls.
ALSO NEW TO DVD: “The Good Doctor: Season Two” (2018, Sony, unrated, $45) is a superb showcase for Daniel
Dae Kim, who was raised in Bethlehem and graduated from Freedom High School. The actor, who produces the hit series, turns up as the controversial and intimidating new Chief of Surgery at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital.
Not surprisingly, Kim’s character clashes almost immediately with Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), the young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome who has never met a tricky condition he couldn’t diagnose.
At its best, the show is a fascinating exploration of the ways that Shaun turns his weaknesses into strengths via his dazzling diagnostic skills.
Darlanne Fluegel, who passed away at 64 in 2017 from early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease, shines brightly in “Lock Up” (1989, Lionsgate, R, $22), a Sylvester Stallone vehicle newly released as a 4K title.
Essentially, it’s a routine prison drama that would be a total bust if not for the performances of Stallone, Fluegel and Donald Sutherland. Stallone plays a convict who is only six months away from release when he’s transferred to a maximum security facility overseen by a sadistic old nemesis (Sutherland).
It’s woefully predictable, and Stallone and Sutherland don’t have nearly enough shared screen time. But when Fluegel is threatened, you can feel Sly’s pain, partly because both actors are so good at communicating the couple’s teasing but tight connection.
“Lock Up” is no lost classic, but it gets the job done thanks to one element: star power.
Amy Longsdorf is a contributing writer.