The Boss Baby: Family Business Review: Sticking to the Same Strange Formula
The Boss Baby was a surprise hit for DreamWorks when it debuted in theaters back in 2017. Despite a mixed reception from critics, the film went on to make a whopping $528 million at the box office and earned a surprising Academy Award nomination the following year. Given DreamWorks' history with franchises and sequels, it came as no surprise that another Boss Baby was swiftly ordered by the studio. Four years later, The Boss Baby: Family Business has finally arrived and it is very much another bottle filled with the exact same formula.
Rather than pick up where The Boss Baby left off, Family Business actually takes place decades later, when Tim and Ted Templeton are both fully grown adults. Older brother Tim, now voiced by James Marsden, is a stay-at-home dad with a wonderful family. Ted (Alec Baldwin) went on to be a massively successful business owner who never has time for his brother or nieces. The pair of brothers are brought back together when Tim's youngest daughter, Tina (Amy Sedaris), reveals herself to be yet another boss baby on a mission from Baby Corp. She turns her dad and uncle back into kids for 48 hours so that they can stop an evil prep school founder (Jeff Goldblum) from starting a global baby revolution.
This new Boss Baby isn't a carbon copy of the first movie; there are new faces and different jokes and wilder plot twists, it's just that the blueprint is the same. There are really great things scattered across both movies, but this blueprint keeps them from being as good as they could be.
Following the example set by Boss Baby, Family Business is filled with weird, dark, and borderline insane ideas, many of which work rather well. There's a Pennywise-inspired baby in this movie that has a penchant for ponies and creeping up on others in dark corridors. There are babies piloting humanoid mech suits, allowing them to function as adults. Even the inclusion of Goldblum is an off-the-wall, galaxy-brain choice that makes these films fun to watch. Boss Baby is a weird franchise and director Tom McGrath and screenwriter Michael McCullers absolutely own that.
The problem is that all of these oddities feel like detours, as if there are Saturday Night Live sketches randomly inserted into a standard network sitcom. There's no effort to bridge the gap between the insanity of the bits and the heartfelt plot about the Templeton family.
The familial themes and undercurrents of this movie are even more effective in a vacuum than those of the first Boss Baby. Brothers growing apart later in life and a father trying to keep his daughter from growing up too fast are great concepts that hit close to home for so many of us. This film even goes as far as to deal with overly competitive grade schools and parents that spend more time viewing their children through their phone cameras than actually being present. These are all really good ideas! It's frustrating that they never have the opportunity to feel profound or emotional.
The themes are solid in their own right, but they aren't given enough exploration or time to breathe to become anything substantial. The jokes and strange set pieces are fun but they feel out of place in almost every scene.
Much like the original movie, The Boss Baby: Family Business is a case of individual parts being greater than the whole. There's a lot to enjoy in this movie, it's especially worth watching as a free stream on Peacock. But there's nothing to hold it all together, nothing that creates a cohesive tone or vision to make the film complete.
Rating: 3 out of 5
The Boss Baby: Family Business arrives in theaters and on Peacock on July 2nd.