Back in 2017, it is safe to say that few expected Tom McGrath’s The Boss Baby to be the near $530 million hit that it was for Dreamworks. Inspired by the picture books by Marla Frazee, The Boss Baby was undoubtedly a film that fully played off its central concept and despite it receiving an Academy Award nomination (yes, that really happened), the film was not so much what you’d call Laika, Ghibli or Pixar pushing. So, with this in mind, it is fair to say that few expectations were raised for the return of Alec Baldwin’s bossy chappy in a nappy, but y’know what? This sequel is not bad.
The film is set three decades after the first, as Tim Templeton (James Marsden, who replaces Miles Bakshi and Tobey Maguire) is now an adult, in fact he’s a husband and a father, one whose creativity often runs wild. However, when he finds his own toddler Tina (Amy Sedaris) is an undercover agent at BabyCorp, he must work with his now estranged and super-rich younger brother Ted (Baldwin), as they are technologically de-aged for one last mission to save parent kind from a teacher with a nefarious plan!
The Boss Baby 2: Family Business is a picturesque sequel that aims to hit the mark for adults and kids alike, and while it does not quite manage that feat effortlessly, this sequel still has an unshakable energy level that is so non-stop, that eventually it just about wins you over with its messages of positivity. Plus it has baby ninjas, a mentos volcano and a creepy kid.
Behind the giddiness of its premise though, this is a well-meaning film about appreciation. Appreciation of family, of childhood, of life and of our diverse talents as people. Admittedly you have seen many of these ideas played out before but Michael McCullers’ screenplay and McGrath’s direction keeps on throwing the heart at you, as well as conjuring up some impressively madcap set pieces and some visual magic to boot.
It helps no end that there is an equally energetic set of vocal performances here too, with Baldwin making some of the sardonic gags work best, as this film seems to tone down some of the more poopy jokes from before thankfully. Meanwhile Jeff Goldblum's (who is always a welcome presence in any movie) pop slurping baddie especially soars, stealing multiple scenes, while James McGrath’s Wizzie (Tim’s childhood sentient wizard alarm clock) is an unsung joy in multiple moments. As is an attitudinal pay called Precious.
The Boss Baby 2: Family Business is a silly animation, and it owns that. But it is also one that sometimes speaks to kids, and then to adults in constant succession. To some this may urge them to ask who the core audience actually is but c’mon, we all know the answer to that. Family Business means well and is nice, inoffensive and colourful family entertainment, that accomplishes its task of returning to this unexpectedly successful baby-verse and finding something fun to do in the process. Even if this writer didn’t go gaga, likely some of the kids will and, well, they are kind of the target audience after all aren’t they.
THE BOSS BABY: FAMILY BUSINESS is showing now in cinemas