(KGET) — It is rare when a movie sequel is as good as the original production and an even bigger surprise when the sequel is far better. That’s definitely the case when it comes to the new animated offering of “The Boss Baby: Family Business.” Taking the emphasis away from the corporate world that drove the original film and focusing on bickering brothers in the sequel gives the production a sweet and smart emotional core that was previously missing.
Back in 2017, “The Boss Baby,” followed a fast-talking, deal-making baby – voiced by Alec Baldwin – who took time away from the business world to go undercover with a family as a toddler. The family elements in that production were only afterthoughts to a tale that was more of a “Wall Street” meets “Jack Reacher” offering.
In “The Boss Baby: Family Business,” the corporate element is eclipsed by the story of two brothers who have become distant over the years. The Templeton brothers—Tim (voiced by James Marsden) and his Boss Baby little brother Ted (again voiced by Alec Baldwin) — have grown up and grown apart. They must find a way to reconnect while stopping a threat to the world.
A magic baby formula allows the two adult Templetons to return to their youth. This will make it easier for them to stop the evil plan that threatens all adults.
The villain this time is Dr. Armstrong, the maniacal head of the prestigious Acorn Center for Advanced Childhood, a school for gifted children – voiced by Jeff Goldblum. The distinct style of acting that is the trademark of Goldblum has often made him come across like a human cartoon. So voicing an animated super villain makes this casting perfect.
Dr. Armstrong has brought together the best young minds to create a way to eliminate parents. One of those students is Tabitha (Ariana Greenblatt), Tim’s daughter. Tim’s return to his youth not only lets him infiltrate the school but it gives him his first real opportunity to see how accomplished his daughter has become. This is another of the family elements that helps elevate this sequel.
Director Tom McGrath manages to deal with all of the family business while keeping the film moving at a near relentless frantic pace. There are a couple of pauses but mostly this new “Baby Boss” movie moves at lighting speed. The fevered pitch of this film and exaggerated action scenes are reminiscent of the prime days of Warner Bros. animation with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the Road Runner.
McGrath directed the previous “Baby Boss” film but he got a better script from writer Michael McCullers this time. And the difference is as welcome as a clean diaper.
The improvements start with a far more interesting cast of supporting players. That starts with Goldblum who plays the evil mastermind with a weird combination of controlled aggression and sugar-induced hyperactivity.
Adding the strong character of Tabitha is also a bonus. Her sweet character is a good counterbalance to the zealous way the two brothers act. She also gives the movie one of its more endearing moments as she faces her fears to sing at a school assembly.
Then there are all the weird and wonderful children who are students in the school. These range from a youngster who looks like the offspring of Norman Bates to a group of Baby Ninjas who are Dr. Armstrong’s answer to Minions.
In the end, all that really matters is that “The Boss Baby: Family Business” proves that with age does come wisdom. The sequel ends up being a great playdate because it avoids the pitfalls of the first film. It is a bright, energetic and – at times – touching story that looks at the business of family more than the family business. That makes for plenty of family fun.
“The Boss Baby: Family Business” opens in theaters July 2 and will be available on the two top tiers of the streaming service Peacock (which cost subscribers $4.99 and $9.99 a month) starting the same day.
“Boss Baby: Family Business”
Cast: Alec Baldwin, James Marsden, Jeff Goldblum, Ariana Greenblatt, Lisa Kudrow, Jimmy Kimmel, Eva Longoria.
Director: Tom McGtrath
Rated: PG for rude humor, mild language, some action sequences
Running time: 107 minutes.