‘Se­cret Life of Pets 2’ hits the video mar­ket

The Morning Call - - GO GUIDE CALENDAR - By Amy Longs­dorf

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.

Wilkes-Barre na­tive

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.




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