Sometimes sequels are known to surprise me. In the past two years, I ended up being surprised by animated sequels to films I didn't like. This happened in 2019 when "The Angry Birds Movie 2" ended up being hilarious and a fun time compared to its predecessor and with "Trolls World Tour" in 2020 which was crazy and colorful rather than annoying and overbearing. I was hoping that this year the sequel that could surprise me was "The Boss Baby: Family Business", the DreamWorks sequel to its lackluster predecessor. I wasn't a fan of the first film when it was released in 2017 so I thought maybe this sequel could have the right energy to fix it. No dice, I'm afraid. If anything, it's just like its predecessor in that it's confusing, strange, and ultimately very thin.
Several years after the event of the first film, the two brothers Tim (James Marsden) and the original titular boss baby Ted (Alec Baldwin) have grown up and are living different lives. Ted is now a successful businessman and CEO of a company while Tim is a stay-at-home dad raising two daughters named Tabitha (Ariana Greenblatt) and baby Tina. Around Christmas time, Tim discovers that Tina (Amy Sedaris) is also working at Babycorp and needs Tim and Ted's help to stop the evil Dr. Armstrong (Jeff Goldblum) who is currently brainwashing kids at his schools around the world named Acorn Center (which Tabitha goes to) and after reverting the two back to their younger selves like the first film, the three set off to save the world and stop Armstrong.
This was such a puzzling sequel to me. Much like its predecessor, it's just as confusing and just as strange while not being as clever or funny as I think it wants to be. The problem with this film, much like the predecessor, is that this is sadly a joke that's stretched very thin. For those that don't know, these films are based on a children's book written by Marla Frazee where the joke is that because the baby gets the most attention in the family when he's born, he's the boss of the house. It's a funny joke for a small children's picture book, but for an hour and a half film, it's stretched way too thin. I'll give DreamWorks and director Tom McGrath credit for trying to give this film a story, but it's sadly too confusing and baffling for my tastes. It doesn't help that when the film opens, the film points out that the first film's story made no sense and was utterly confusing as a joke. That's a bad sign. While the story has some nice messages about the brother's drifting apart from one another and Tim's fear of losing Tabitha who's growing up way too fast with the latter feeling nicely developed, it's brushed aside for the utterly bizarre storyline revolving around BabyCorp that didn't work for me at all. It's mostly insane and on high speed and it got too tiresome for me after a while with a crazy chase involving a pony feeling way too over the top. It's also confusing since, in the first film, it's made clear that the whole film was imaginary since Tim had an active imagination about what it would be like to have a new baby brother. In this film though, the filmmakers decided to make the whole thing real which contradicts the first film and just left me scratching my head and opened up tons of plot holes. Not to mention, this film had a massive plot hole that I still can't wrap my head around. As I stated in my summary, both Tim and Ted are shrunken back down to their younger selves though Tim stills has his adult voice which he uses to trick Tabitha and his wife Carol (Eva Langoria) to think the two went on a bonding trip. However, later in the film, Tim is seen talking to Tabitha and his wife as the kid and still has the adult voice which they don't recognize for some reason. This legitimately made no sense! At least in "Soul" when 22 ended up in Joe's body, it was made clear that 22 had Joe's voice when she talked to other people as him. This doesn't work here at all. It would've been better if DreamWorks hired a kid to play Tim as his younger self rather than Marsden and also have Ted use his voice to throw off Carol so they can escape which would work in the film's universe since Baldwin's voice was used as the baby in the first film. Most of the jokes sadly don't land though I will say this film did get a laugh out of me regarding a timeout room and the song choice they used. If you've seen David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", you'll get the reference. The characters themselves aren't very interesting to talk about. I do think Amy Sedaris has some funny moments as Tina and had a lot more energy as the new boss baby compared to Baldwin, I sadly think the two brothers themselves aren't interesting. Ted being the businessman buried in his work getting to love his family is a cliche that isn't given anything new here though Tim has some nice moments bonding with his daughter Tabitha and helping her with an upcoming winter program. The bonding with his brother though feels rather forced and doesn't work as it should. I also found Armstrong way too bizarre as the villain and his evil plan unoriginal as it's been handled in other animated films much better. The best I can say is that the animation is decent. I'm still not a huge fan of the character designs as I feel their eyes are too big, the film does have some colorful moments and bright visuals that will keep the kids happy. It's also very fast and over the top which is something Tom McGrath excels at even if I do think he should've reigned it in a bit. I also thought that Tim's fantasies were still fun with a highlight being a scene where he gets Tabitha out of her shell and not feeling as worried about singing as she should. It reminded me a lot of the Firework circus scene from "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted". Sadly though, it's not enough to save the film. Also, this is off topic but why the heck did Universal release a film set around Christmas time in the summer? That makes no sense!
And honestly, "The Boss Baby: Family Business" didn't really make much sense to me in general. The story is confusing and didn't have many funny jokes, the animation was bright and colorful if a bit too over the top at times, and the characters had development that felt derivative and forced. As an animated film in general, I can't really recommend this sequel. I know DreamWorks can make a great sequel, but this isn't one of them. If anything, it's sadly yet another dirty diaper in their catalog.