In The Boss Baby: Family Business, the follow-up to the 2017 Oscar-nominated film The Boss Baby and the popular Netflix series The Boss Baby: Back in Business, growing up is not an excuse for growing apart. Years after saving the world, Tim Templeton (James Marsden) and his younger brother Ted (Alec Baldwin) are no longer as close as they once were. Tim is happily living life in the suburbs with his wife Carol (Eva Longoria) and their two daughters, 7-years-old Tabitha (Ariana Greenblatt) and infant Tina (Amy Sedaris), while Ted has become a successful hedge fund CEO.
Obsessed with his work and wealth, Ted misses every family gathering but remembers to send lavishly inappropriate gifts like a pony. Now accustomed to a life where the red carpet is literally rolled out before him, Tim’s brother no longer recalls the time he was BabyCorp’s revered agent Boss Baby. But as the fate of the world hangs in the balance and the danger inches closer to home, he will be forced to channel his inner spy once again.
Unbeknownst to Ted, Tina has now taken over the baby espionage mantle at BabyCorp and is working on a case linked to Tabitha’s school. Presided over by Dr. Erwin Armstrong (Jeff Goldblum), the Acorn Center for Advanced Childhood is a Montessori-style academy that challenges students to reach their full potential through academic competition. However, as Tim notices in his interactions with Tabitha, the school’s quest for excellence has little room for imaginative play. Utilizing cutting edge educational technology and new age disciplinary methods, like a time out room which plays Enya’s hit “Orinoco Flow”, the Acorn Center has become the most popular chain of schools in the land. The school’s success provides the perfect cover for Dr. Armstrong’s secret evil plan—launching an app that will allow him to control the minds of parents all over the world.
While society’s obsession with cell phones and apps have become a prominent theme in recent animated films, best executed in the vastly superior The Mitchells vs the Machine, The Boss Baby: Family Business merely uses this idea as an excuse to dive into the rocky waters of familial bonds. Tom McGrath’s film spends most of its energy exploring how the estranged siblings learn to bridge the canyon of emotions that has kept them apart. This opens the door for plenty of odd couple-style comedic set pieces. McGrath parallels the brothers’ journey to reconciliation with the growing sense of detachment between Tim and Tabitha.
When focusing on the father-daughter dynamics, The Boss Baby: Family Business hits the perfect blend of irreverent humour and genuine heart. The film evokes a sense of wonder and endless possibility whenever Tim attempts to unlock Tabitha’s creative side. While these moments could have been expanded upon further, as they are the most visually inventive sections of the film, they effectively convey the type of bond the brothers are trying to rebuild. Although tiptoeing into Back to the Future territory at times, as Tim and Ted must drink a special potion to revert to their younger selves, McGrath’s does not waste much time explaining the science of the world it constructs.
Having not seen any of the previous Boss Baby works, though my kids sing their praises, elements like the magical pacifiers and overall mechanics of the Acorn Center academy were lost on me. However, in an oddly fitting way, the film works best when one simply embraces the gleeful silliness of it all. It also helps that the film is filled fun characters—you can never go wrong with Jeff Goldblum playing a villain—that keep the film moving at a brisk pace.
The Boss Baby: Family Business is an entertaining romp that will satisfy all ages. For all its outlandish comedic beats the film never loses sight of the family bonds that bind it all together. At the end of the day, the is a reminder that we are our brother’s keeper.
The Boss Baby: Family Business opens in theatres July 2.