The first Boss Baby, released in 2017, has a premise both insane and disturbing: a seven-year-old named Tim learns his new baby brother is a tiny executive who works for Baby Corp, where… babies are manufactured? And babies are worried puppies are too cute and will render them extinct? You could charitably interpret its bizarre plot as the fantasy of a boy frightened of losing his parents’ affection. The sequel offers no such interpretation. It is simply a torrent of madness.
Decades on, Tim (James Marsden) is now a father — a needy one who feels rejected when his bookish eldest daughter, Tabitha (Ariana Greenblatt), does homework. Tim has lost contact with his younger brother, Ted (Alec Baldwin), who is still a boss but no longer a baby. Tim’s youngest daughter, Tina (Amy Sedaris), reveals she is an employee of Baby Corp and needs her family’s help to foil a plot by the mysterious Dr Erwin Armstrong (Jeff Goldblum), who runs the school Tabitha attends. The mission will require Tim and Ted to turn back into children.
Director Tom McGrath builds no internal logic to hold his story together and doesn’t have any good gags to distract from the confusion.
Almost every plot development begs the question: Why? Why is there a secret baby corporation? Why is it in the clouds? Why has Armstrong started an entire school when his plot only requires internet connection? Why isn’t Tina allowed to do anything but send boys to do the dangerous stuff, and is that a great message? Why is Tim’s alarm clock sentient? Why are there ninja babies? There are no answers.
There’s no problem with surreality, especially in a kids’ film — see The Lego Movie — but returning director Tom McGrath builds no internal logic to hold his story together and doesn’t have any good gags to distract from the confusion. He explains little and abandons ideas ruthlessly. Themes about over-parenting, working too hard, and money not buying happiness come to nothing. Its sole redeeming features are attractive animation and the presence of Jeff Goldblum. Nothing is entirely unwatchable if it includes Jeff Goldblum. But it’s very close.