A charming animation that relies on heart and humour rather than snarky wit, The Secret Life of Pets 2 is a solid sequel – something that’s harder to pull off than you might think.

Patton Oswalt takes over from Louis C. K. (for obvious reasons) as the voice of Max, whose owner’s new baby marks a change in his doggy way of life. Jealousy quickly turns to a protectiveness that causes him to see danger lurking in every corner. Though a sequence where he’s taken to the vet and faces a waiting room full of ‘crazy’ animals is played for laughs, the majority of the film treats his anxiety with compassion, which is honestly a great message for kids and adults alike.

Courtesy of Illumination Entertainment

Helping Max through his fears is alpha sheep dog Rooster, voiced commandingly by Harrison Ford. Capitalising on his Star Wars: The Force Awakens persona of grumpy and begrudging father figure whose crabby exterior hides a heart of gold, Rooster teaching Max how to overcome his worries and learn to be brave is pretty powerful stuff.

Max also takes on a parental role to the baby, and learning to let go and let him experience the world is a lesson for parents watching too – and not a subtle one. You might end up taking your pets to a therapist, and booking one for yourself too.

Courtesy of Illumination Entertainment

The rest of the pets are up to their own hijinks while Max is off on a farm learning this profound lesson. Jenny Slate is back as fellow pup Gidget, who must learn from Lake Bell’s cat Chloe how to act like a cat in order to rescue a missing toy from a cat lady’s intimidating den. Though it’s funny conceptually, Slate is wasted in an underused role.

Kevin Hart, however, is on top form as bunny Snowball who, due to his owner dressing him up, is capitalising on the superhero trend. Tiffany Haddish is a great addition to the cast as tough terrier Daisy, and the odd pair set off to release a captive tiger from a Russian circus master voiced by Nick Kroll.

Courtesy of Illumination Entertainment

Though not the most innovative style, the animation works well – creepy cats and wicked wolves are enough to strike some mild fear into any four year old’s heart, and animal fight scenes are never boring.

Overall a fun film – it’s not going to make icon status, but it’ll do for a half term outing.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 is in cinemas now.