Synopsis – The Templeton brothers have become adults and drifted away from each other, but a new boss baby with a cutting-edge approach is about to bring them together again – and inspire a new family business.
My Take – Released in 2017, The Boss Baby, which was loosely based on the 2010 picture book of the same name by Marla Frazee, was not exactly a good film, but possessed a pleasant charm especially if one is ready to acknowledge the inherent strangeness of its talking-baby power structure premise and its rehashed use of toilet humor.
But with the kids being its prime target, it got the job done by making them laugh hard, resulting in worldwide box office revenue of $528 million and a nomination in Best Animated Feature category at the 90th Academy Awards.
While the film was quickly followed up a four season sequel Netflix series titled The Boss Baby: Back in Business, a short film and an interactive Netflix special, four years later, director Tom McGrath is back with another feature outing, a sequel nobody asked for.
However, unlike the original film, the sequel isn’t based on Marla Frazee’s books, but instead sees writer Michael McCullers puts together an original story that takes inspiration from a lot of other films. And as one would expect, things haven’t changed much since the original, as the sequel too is charming but ultimately generic that simply goes where you expect it go.
Sure, there is nothing wrong with keeping it basic, especially when the underlying themes are genuine. While the first film brought in a decent spin on showing how a new baby disrupts the older sibling’s well settled life, the sequel hones in the importance family.
But in an oddly fitting way, the film works best when one simply embraces the gleeful silliness of it all. It also helps that the film is filled with fun characters that keep the film moving at a brisk pace. This isn’t a great film, but it is a satisfying one. That being said, the kids will love this one too.
Taking place years after the events of the film, the story once again follows Tim (voiced by James Marsden) who is happily married to Carol (voiced by Eva Longoria), as a stay at home dad, with two daughters, the 7-years-old Tabitha (voiced by Ariana Greenblatt) and the infant Tina (voiced by Amy Sedaris). However, Tim and his younger brother Ted (voiced by Alec Baldwin) are no longer close anymore.
Obsessed with his work and wealth, Ted misses every family gathering but remembers to send lavishly inappropriate gifts to his nieces. Also, now accustomed to a life where the red carpet is literally rolled out before him, Teddy no longer recalls the time he was BabyCorp’s revered agent Boss Baby. B
ut unbeknownst to Tim and Ted, Tina has now taken over the baby espionage mantle at BabyCorp and is working on a case linked to Tabitha’s school. Presided over by Dr. Erwin Armstrong (voiced by Jeff Goldblum), the Acorn Center for Advanced Childhood is a Montessori-style academy that challenges students to reach their full potential through academic competition. However, as Tim notices in his interactions with Tabitha, the school’s quest for excellence has little room for imaginative play.
Utilizing cutting edge educational technology and new age disciplinary methods, the Acorn Center has become the most popular chain of schools in the land. But Tina and BabyCorp are convinced that the school’s success is a cover for some evil plan Dr. Armstrong is concocting, and to unveil the plan she recruits Tim and Teddy to discover the truth, by going undercover as their former childhood versions.
For an animated film about talking babies it sure crams in a lot of story, side characters, and gags, making it feel overcrowded and unfocused. Though film is relatively inoffensive it never really shows the bold potential of the first film. Both films have a lot of problems but at least the first went for it, while this safe sequel will be enough fun for the kids in the room. Mainly as it still maintains the silliness and cartoon physics from the original film.
But the film is much stronger when it focuses on the varying family dynamics. Here, director McGrath’s film spends most of his energy exploring how the estranged siblings learn to bridge the canyon of emotions that has kept them apart. This opens the door for plenty of odd couple-style comedic set pieces, with director McGrath paralleling the brothers’ journey to reconciliation with the growing sense of detachment between Tim and Tabitha.
When focusing on the father-daughter dynamics, the film hits the perfect blend of irreverent humor and genuine heart, and evokes a sense of wonder and endless possibility whenever Tim attempts to unlock Tabitha’s creative side. Sure, the humor can be amusing depending on your tolerance for animated hijinks.
Visually, the film does a stellar job of varying its aesthetic according to the environment it’s in especially Tim’s overactive imagination. The stylistic contrast of Tim’s vivid imagination really improves the overall film. Also, the character and environment designs look incredible, which leads to another very colorful film from DreamWorks Animation.
The voice cast seems to be enjoying themselves. Alec Baldwin is perfect, reprising what is arguably his best big screen role in years, channeling his big energy in the best ways, while JamesMarsden, who replaces Tobey Maguire for the voice of Adult Tim, enhances a lot of the corny humor and Jeff Goldblum continues to be awesome as always.
In other roles, Amy Sedaris, Ariana Greenblatt, Eva Longoria, James McGrath, Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmel provide good support. On the whole, ‘The Boss Baby: Family Business’ is a disposable yet entertaining animated romp that is fun enough for the kids.
Directed – Tom McGrath
Rated – PG
Run Time – 107 minutes