In some ways, the original The Boss Baby film from 2016 doesn’t feel real. I’m entirely accepting that DreamWorks would make such a ludicrous, absurd film, but I can’t help but do the Michael Myers head tilt in disbelief when I consider that the film made 528 million worldwide at the box office. For perspective, that’s more than How to Train your Dragon: The Hidden World or Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse tallied. For what it’s worth though, The Boss Baby wasn’t that awful of a film. It’s par for the course, and may’ve even been better than anticipated. It was not a high Pixar or Studio Ghibli film, able to transcend conventional animation, but if you compared it to, I don’t know, Baby Geniuses, well then, you’re in for a delightful surprise.
Like the man-babies who would watch something like The Boss Baby: Family Business (I’m joking … after all, it’s a double-edged sword), the story sees our former cast back again to their old hijinks – albeit, with a few caveats.
Ted and Tim Templeton are now fully grown adults, and as fully grown adults often do, they have went their separate ways and have grown apart. Ted is a successful businessman with money out the wazoo, whereas Tim went for a more modest life, acting as a stay-at-home father for his children. Through some shenanigans, Ted and Tim find themselves thrown back into each other’s lives. As it turns out, Tim’s youngest daughter has stayed with the, ahem, family business, and needs their guidance in an important mission. Both Tim and Ted find themselves shrunk down to their younger selves and are tasked with stopping a supervillain voiced by Jeff Goldblum.
Like one should always do with a film like this, I went into this film with reasonable expectation. Chances are, the target demographic for The Boss Baby is not a twenty-five-year-old man who writes reviews criticizing children’s movies in his spare time. Truth is, between a normal 9-5, and extracurriculars like the Nightmare Shift, sometimes I want something a little stupid to check myself out on.
I don’t think being a quality film and a little stupid are mutually exclusive things, so long as you can commit and do it well. The Boss Baby: Family Business may not be the highest quality stupid I’ve ever seen, but I actually enjoyed myself a lot more than I thought I would.
As prefaced, the first Boss Baby was satiable, unambitious entertainment, and, for all intents and purposes, The Boss Baby: Family Business is, at the very least, more of the same in that department. However, I believe The Boss Baby 2 is also a large improvement over the original film.
Like the last, The Boss Baby: Back in Business as a mostly flimsy, sentimental story, and does not do a lot to allow its characters to standout beyond their cookie cutter templates. Likewise, it does feature frequent callbacks to the original film and does, at times, ooze a small hint of sequel-itis, where it feels like it is trying to elongate old plot threads and recapture what audiences appeared to like about the predecessor. That in mind, I found that when the film wasn’t trying to hard, or even in instances where, other times, I might’ve said they were going through the motions, that’s really when the film is allowed to succeed. When it leans into the frivolousness of itself, and the slapstick humor, I found it easily exceeded anything the former accomplished.
Most of the humor remains fairly paint-by-the-numbers, conventional DreamWorks shtick, but it does have an occasional moment or two of wit that I was caught off-guard by.
The animation feels more lively and detailed, and while it certainly isn’t anywhere near top-shelf stuff, it feels far more inspired and thought out, benefited by more visual flare and experimentation. I would actually compare it to the difference between Trolls and Trolls World Tour, where it feels like the animators were allowed to have more fun with the aesthetic in scenes.
Like I said, the storyline isn’t about to catch you off-guard, but, I feel like I didn’t even mind that for this film. The relationship between Ted and Tim feels wedged and ham-fisted, and Ted’s desire to connect with his oldest daughter feels glossy and manufactured, but I found the sentiment more potent and resonating than I initially would’ve expected.
The Boss Baby: Back in Business is not a film I would go out of my way to watch, especially now that I’m on the other side, having endured the lag of the Peacock streaming services‘ video-player, but, if you have kids, or if, like me, you wanted something colorful and cutesy to watch to winddown, you could do a lot worse than this film.