I'm the parent of a wonderful two-year-old who, like many kids his age, has an excess of energy. He's perpetually in motion, running around, climbing on counters, jumping on furniture, and getting his hands on everything all the time. Occasionally I'll joke with my wife, asking what she thinks he would be like if we gave him an energy drink. Now that I've seen The Boss Baby: Family Business, I think I know the answer. This movie is cranked to the max from start to finish, leaving you utterly worn out at the end of 107 minutes. Parents who take their children to see it may feel like they need a nap afterward.
The young characters from the original Boss Baby are adults now, although the film oddly still seems to be set in present day. Tim (voiced by James Marsden) is a stay-at-home dad. Ted (Alec Baldwin) is the CEO of a hedge fund. They don't talk much anymore. The siblings are forced to band together after Tim's infant daughter Tina (Amy Sedaris) reveals that she's a secret agent for Baby Corp.
Her reason for making this known is that her older sister's school is being run by a madman named Dr. Armstrong (Jeff Goldblum). He's got a scheme to abolish parents and turn the world over to children. Tina needs their help to prevent him from succeeding. Tim and Ted consume a special formula that turns the former into a toddler and the latter back into a baby so they can infiltrate the school.
The first Boss Baby was no masterpiece, but it had some very funny observational comedy about infant behavior. The sequel loses most of that, going instead for one huge moment of broad slapstick after another. In fact, it's unrelenting in that regard. Jokes, gags, and puns are fired at the audience with the rapidity of a machine gun. Family Business bounces manically from one thing to the next, never settling down to let viewers digest a joke or a witty concept. By the time one punchline registers, the movie is already two jokes ahead.
In-your-face animation heightens the annoying quality of that comedic approach. Even though it's not in 3D, objects are constantly flying at your face. The camera swirls around like a balloon letting out all its air in scene after scene. The voice acting is irritating, too. Sedaris and Baldwin have a tendency to yell all their dialogue because Tina is supposed to be hyper and Ted is (naturally) bossy. The cumulative effect is that The Boss Baby: Family Business is exhausting to watch.
That isn't to say there aren't moments that work. Goldblum is funny, riffing on his genius Ian Malcolm character from Jurassic Park. Bits here and there are amusing, such as the way Tina tries to distract Tim's wife Carol (Eva Longoria) by grabbing a pair of scissors and running around the living room, causing her to freak out. Been there, done that.
To say that the material is bad wouldn't quite be accurate. Quality isn't the problem, quantity is. The Boss Baby: Family Business is so jam-packed with loud mayhem that you don't watch the film so much as get assaulted by it. Young kids who love movies but have no tolerance for those pesky story beats will love it. Older kids and parents will probably reach for the ibuprofen when it's over.
out of four
The Boss Baby: Family Business is rated PG for rude humor, mild language and some action. The running time is 1 hour and 47 minutes.