Review by Sean Boelman
The 2017 film The Boss Baby was a hyperactive and often obnoxious animated movie that somehow negotiated its way into financial success and an Academy Award nomination despite a largely mixed reception. Its sequel, The Boss Baby: Family Business, is much more conventional, and ultimately more enjoyable, although it is still clear that this is not among DreamWorks’s best properties.
Set years after the first film, this follows the Templeton brothers from the first movie as adults as another Boss Baby is welcomed into the family and they all find themselves on a mission to save childhood. It’s a premise that is absolutely ridiculous, but whereas the first film left viewers wondering what hallucinogens the writers were on, this one will mostly leave people wondering if actual children wrote it.
That said, the pacing of the movie is surprisingly good. Thankfully, the jokes here aren’t as repetitive or annoying as those in the first, with some genuinely witty one-liners aimed at the parents of the younger target audience. And there are some interesting action scenes, even if the film could have done much more with them.
Ultimately, the biggest issue with this movie is that it is largely a continuation of the themes from the first one. The message about brotherhood and how the love for one’s family should be unconditional was already fleshed out, giving this film a somewhat worn quality. Other themes, like fatherhood, are introduced, but are largely underdeveloped.
Additionally, the movie seems so concerned with the dynamic between the two brothers that it ignores almost every other relationship in the film. The most heartfelt moments come not from the antics between Tim and Ted, but those portions of the movie about Tim and his elder daughter, who is the most interesting but also most underutilized character.
The thing that really allows this film to shine, though, is the addition of Jeff Goldblum to the cast as the villain. Goldblum is just as perfect as the quirky antagonist as Alec Baldwin is as the distinctive eponymous character. Amy Sedaris is also a welcome new addition to the cast. James Mardsen replaces Tobey Maguire in this movie, and it’s a change that is noticeable but has no real impact.
There is still a lot of colorful animation in the film, and while it is nowhere near as exaggerated as the previous entry, there is still some inspired wacky imagery. Made for a cheaper (but still quite large) budget, the movie really falls victim to the trend of diminishing returns that plagues the visuals of animated sequels.
The Boss Baby: Family Business manages to be an improvement over the nearly insufferable first film, but that wasn’t a high bar to pass. This is very average family entertainment, which has been a lot of what DreamWorks has been putting out as of late.
The Boss Baby: Family Business hits theaters and Peacock on July 2.