It’s rare, but sometimes a sequel manages to be exactly what it needed to be.
“The Boss Baby: Family Business” is the sequel to the surprise hit from 2017, and features Alec Baldwin reprising his titular role as the toddler obsessed with business. This time around, Boss Baby and his older brother Tim (James Marsden) must work with Tim’s infant daughter (Amy Sedaris) to stop a professor (Jeff Goldblum) from ruining childhood for kids. Tom McGrath returns to the director chair.
If you know me, you know I’m a big fan of the 2017 film. It’s so wonderfully stupid and tone-deaf of its intended audience, and having seen it five times I can attest that some of the jokes hold up wonderfully well. We probably didn’t need a sequel but when your first film grossed $500 million and broke the internet with an Oscar nomination, a second film is inevitable; luckily, it’s more gleeful stupidity that did not leave me disappointed.
Say what you will about Alec Baldwin as a person, but as an entertainer there aren’t many better. Baldwin again is able to bring his deprecating and smug tone to the role of Boss Baby, and shares some good repartee with James Marston, who replaces Miles Bakshi and Tobey Maguire as the voice of Tim, Boss Baby’s older brother. Jeff Goldblum replaces Steve Buscemi as the film’s villain and is, naturally, playing his oh-oh-ah self, but it’s amusing.
Just like with the first film, the humor here is great and at times way beyond a kid’s reach. While the “Shrek” and “Toy Story” films include humor for all ages, the “Boss Baby” films seem to put the 13+ crowd first, including several jokes that had my friend and I snickering in the back of the theater while the kids sat quiet. I honestly think I laughed-out-loud more times here than at any recent studio comedy, and that’s not an easy feat to accomplish.
The film does have some pacing issues, particularly towards the climax, and the plot remains as aimless as ever (threads are introduced and rushed to conclusion, or simply abandoned altogether). Some of the animation is also a bit flat, which makes sense since they cut the budget for the sequel down from $125 million to “just” $82 million and had to finish production in the animators’ homes due to COVID.
“The Boss Baby: Family Business” is everything I wanted and needed it to be as a fan of the first film, and in an age of sequels being forced cashgrabs, long-delayed, or simply not good, it’s refreshing to get one that keeps the spirit of the original while expanding the lore. (Am I giving too much credit and examination to a film about talking babies? Only maybe a little.)
Critics Rating: 7/10
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