MOVIE REVIEW: Favourites get new leash on life in Pets 2
In The Secret Life of Pets 2, we have an animated sequel very much anticipated by audiences of a single-digit age.
If you don't remember much of the original - which grossed a mammoth $1.25 billion worldwide in 2016 without making headlines - don't go losing sleep.
That first one was essentially a thinly-disguised clone of Toy Story, with domesticated animals subbing for discarded playthings.
This second one has a few fresher stories to tell this time around, and the end result is slightly higher than the pass mark achieved by its predecessor.
The main plot once again revolves around the adventures of a jumpy Jack Russell terrier named Max (voiced by Patton Oswalt), now taking a sabbatical out on the farm after life in the city gets a bit much.
Together with his burly best bud Duke (Eric Stonestreet), Max is often on the verge of falling apart amid the supposedly serene new surrounds.
It is only upon the intercession of a no-nonsense new mentor, the gruff sheepdog Rooster (Harrison Ford), that Max will find a way to stand on his own four paws again.
Meanwhile, back in downtown, franchise faves such as the rogue rabbit Snowball (Kevin Hart) and the lovelorn, Max-adoring pooch Gidget (Jenny Slate) have their own problems to overcome.
Now reformed from his once-nefarious ways, Snowball has somehow come to the conclusion that he is some kind of carrot-chomping superhero.
A new dog on the block, Daisy (Tiffany Haddish), enlists Snowball in a harebrained scheme to free a mistreated tiger from a travelling circus.
As for Gidget's section of the movie, well, in Max's absence, the one job that she had to do was guarantee the safety of her would-be boyfriend's most treasured possession.
Needless to say, the task is quickly beyond her skill set, with Max's heirloom now lodged inside the apartment of the neighbourhood's most notorious cat-lady.
To make matters worse, the hundreds of cats that live at this cramped residence are feline forces of evil not known to issue a purring welcome to intruders like Gidget.
All three storylines ultimately intersect in a very entertaining final act, cleverly and colourfully animated under the lively direction of Despicable Me creator Chris Renaud.
THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 (PG)
Director: Chris Renaud (Despicable Me)
Starring: the voices of Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate, Tiffany Haddish, Harrison Ford.
Getting a new leash on life