Genre: CG Animation
Director: Tom McGrath
Cast: Alec Baldwin, James Marsden, Eva Longoria, Ariana Greenblatt, Amy Sedaris, Jeff Goldblum, Lisa Kudrow, Jimmy Kimmel
Runtime: 1 hr 47 mins
Released By: UIP
Opening Day: 9 September 2021
Synopsis: In the sequel to DreamWorks Animation’s Oscar® - nominated blockbuster comedy, the Templeton brothers—Tim (James Marsden, X-Men franchise) and his Boss Baby little bro Ted (Alec Baldwin)—have become adults and drifted away from each other. Tim is now a married stay-at-home dad. Ted is a hedge fund CEO. But a new boss baby with a cutting-edge approach and a can-do attitude is about to bring them together again... and inspire a new family business. Tim and his wife,Carol (Eva Longoria), the breadwinner of the family, live in the suburbs with their super-smart 7-year-old daughter Tabitha (Ariana Greenblatt, Avengers:Infinity War), and adorable new infant Tina (Amy Sedaris, Netflix’s BoJack Horseman). Tabitha, who’s at the top her class at the prestigious Acorn Center for Advanced Childhood, idolizes her Uncle Ted and wants to become like him, but Tim, still in touch with his overactive youthful imagination, worries that she’s working too hard and is missing out on a normal childhood. When baby Tina reveals that she’s—ta-da!—a top secret agent for BabyCorp on a mission to uncover the dark secrets behind Tabitha’s school and its mysterious founder, Dr. Erwin Armstrong (Jeff Goldblum), it will reunite the Templeton brothers in unexpected ways, lead them to re-evaluate the meaning of family and discover what truly matters.
How much you enjoy ‘The Boss Baby: Family Business’ depends on how much you think you’ll enjoy a retread of the original 2017 animated film. Indeed, four years after that subversive adaptation of Marla Frazee’s children’s book series earned half a billion at the worldwide box office as well as an Oscar nomination, director Tom McGrath and screenwriter Michael McCullers have returned to deliver more or less the same movie, albeit cloaked in a different save-the-world plot.
Most, if not all, of the thrill of ‘The Boss Baby’ came from the incessant bickering between the titular infant and his big brother Tim; yet, as those who remember the ending will tell you, that movie ended tidily with the eponymous Ted deciding to become just another regular child. So in order that we can be reunited with Ted and Tim at roughly the same ages from the first movie, we find ourselves sitting through an unnecessarily extended prologue that sees the estranged grown-up siblings reunited one winter morning, before being given a magic baby formula that de-ages them back to when Tim was seven and Ted was a Boss Baby respectively.
Their mission is but an excuse to re-create the original’s gags, story beats and character dynamics, but for what it is worth, Ted and Tim have been recruited by Tim’s infant daughter Tina (Amy Sedaris) to stop the diabolical Dr. Irwin Armstrong (Jeff Goldblum) from inciting a worldwide revolution to eliminate all parents everywhere. In case it hasn’t dawned on you, Tina happens to be an agent of Baby Corp., and it is she who not only engineers an excuse for the busy hedge fund manager Ted to come visit Tim and his family, but also gives them the potion that turns them back to their younger selves.
To make the mission more personal, Tim’s older daughter Tabitha happens to be studying at Dr. Armstrong’s hypermodern school; and while that is supposed to increase the stakes for Tim, it also creates the opportunity for Tim and Tabitha to reconnect with each other, especially as Tabitha increasingly outgrows her father’s childlike whimsy. You can probably guess that Tim and Tabitha will eventually overcome their misunderstandings and make up with each other, or that Ted will re-learn the importance of family and set aside time to spend with Tim and his family.
Oh yes, the emotional parts are by-the-numbers, even obligatory, notwithstanding how the voice cast do their best to make the reunions heartfelt. Thankfully, they fare much better with the zingers, with Alec Baldwin (as Ted) and James Marsden (as Tim, taking over Tobey Maguire in the original) clearly having lots of fun trading barbs at each other; there is also a delightfully perky Sedaris, as well as Goldblum playing a beguilingly weird villain, a niche that he clearly relishes. We would even go so far as to say that they make the material better than it really is, which grown-ups accompanying their kids to the cinema will be especially thankful for.
Falling back once again on formula, the sequel runs again at a frenetic pace from start to finish, packing in a string of action scenes that are intended to be so brisk you wouldn’t have time to catch your breath. To director McGrath’s credit, there are a number of pretty amusing ones, such as a zippy chase sequence through Tim’s small town in the throes of Christmas season, a run-in between Ted and an army of baby ninjas, and the climactic showdown with Dr. Armstrong in a giant acorn that sees our heroes avert disaster using an elementary Mentos-and-soda fountain.
Yet on the whole, ‘The Boss Baby: Family Business’ is ultimately a mediocre sequel that fails to live up to the inventiveness of its predecessor. Baldwin is still hilarious as the titular boss baby, but the script fails to evolve his character in any meaningful way; ditto that of his older brother Tim, who like Ted, seem to be stuck in the same rut as he was four years ago. Like we said, how much you enjoy this sequel depends on how much you enjoy a retread of the original film, and even though you may still laugh at the familiar, there’s no denying it’s no longer as fresh or even as funny as before.
(Not quite as fresh and funny as before, this sequel banks too much on the familiar by offering up the same gags, story beats and character dynamics as its predecessor)
Review by Gabriel Chong