I think it’s a fair assumption to state that not many people expected Tom McGrath‘s 2017 effort The Boss Baby to clear the half a billion dollars it did at the global box office. It was a bizarre comedy that entirely banked on its central premise – a baby that spoke like an entitled adult – and though it earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Film, it was hardly on the same scale of a Pixar or a Ghibli production.
But we all know money talks, and so here we are with a ridiculous sequel – The Boss Baby: Family Business – that, like its predecessor, hopes its premise is wild and amusing enough to justify its existence. It aims for the comedic mark that both adults and kids will respond to, and though the Michael McCullers-penned script isn’t exactly razor-sharp and, for lack of a better word, smart, it’s so off-kilter and ludicrously bonkers that it’s likely to win the older audiences over whilst distracting the youngens with its shiny visuals and ultimate positivity.
Set three decades after the original, where former titular boss baby Ted (voiced by Alec Baldwin, effortlessly making some of the more sardonic gags work) is now a super rich CEO of sorts and somewhat estranged from his older brother, Tim (James Marsden, taking over vocal duties from the shared work of Miles Bakshi and Tobey Maguire from the first film), it doesn’t take long for this film’s even more ludicrous premise to take shape. Tim, now married with two kids of his own (Eva Longoria providing the voice of his wife, Carol), uncovers that his youngest daughter, Tina (Amy Sedaris), is similarly a “boss baby”, an undercover agent to boot, and has been tasked to uncover a nefarious plan that makes not a lick of sense.
But to the film’s credit, it’s entirely aware that it’s so over-the-line in terms of practicality that it just bunkers down and commits to the insanity; Jeff Goldblum as the film’s unhinged villain and James McGrath‘s Wizzie, a Gandalf-esque alarm clock from Tim’s childhood, both solidifying the unbridled freedom clearly embraced. Family Business means well underneath all the nonsense too. It’s completely silly and very much enjoys how inoffensive it is, but it knows how to speak to kids and adults in a certain succession, throwing in a message of appreciating what you have in the now for good measure without overtly preaching it.
THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Boss Baby: Family Business is screening in Australian theatres from November 25th, 2021.