[Screen It]


(2021) (voices of James Marsden, Alec Baldwin) (PG)

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Computer-Animated Comedy: Estranged adult brothers are turned back into undercover kids to infiltrate a school and investigate its questionable leader.

Having saved the day back when they were kids, Tim Templeton (voice of JAMES MARSDEN) and his younger brother Ted (voice of ALEC BALDWIN) have gone their separate ways. While Ted -- a former boss baby who worked for Baby Corp back then -- has gone on to become a successful businessman, Tim is a stay-at-home dad.

He's married to Carol (voice of EVA LONGORIA) and serves as the imaginative father to seven-year-old Tabitha (voice of ARIANA GREENBLATT) and her one-year-old sister, Tina (voice of AMY SEDARIS). Ted is concerned that Tabitha is growing apart from him while idolizing her uncle, all of which means he has no idea that Tina not only can talk like an adult, but like her uncle before her, she secretly works for Baby Corp.

Her mission is to find out what's happening at her sister's school, The Acorn Center, and whether its founder and leader, Dr. Erwin Armstrong (voice of JEFF GOLDBLUM), has any nefarious plans toward others. To get insider info, Tina has the estranged brothers de-aged back into child form to infiltrate the school. All of which means they must eventually put their differences behind them to save the day once again.

OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10

Back when I was growing up, at least where I lived, there were regular, old-fashioned public schools that probably hadn't changed much over the decades up to that point, and parochial schools that were likely even more rigid in terms of change or lack thereof.

Nowadays there are all sorts of places of education for kids, some of which leave some parents concerned about what their children are being exposed to in terms of what's being taught and the overall education philosophy. So much so that certain parents want those places investigated.

I doubt, however, that many one-year-olds do the same because, well, they're only several hundred days old and, for the most part, aren't far into the new walking and talking bit, and lack the ability to put together complex thoughts such as those related to conspiracies, paranoia and so on.

But not all one-year-olds are Tina Templeton who, to her parents -- Tim (voiced by James Marsden) and Carol (Eva Longoria) -- and older sister -- Tabitha (Arianna Greenblatt) -- is just a normal toddler. In reality, she works for Baby Corp, much like her uncle Ted (Alec Baldwin) did back when he was a baby decades ago.

That all comes to light in "The Boss Baby: Family Business," the sequel to -- surprise, surprise -- "The Boss Baby" from 2017, a computer-animated comedy that I found to be "a marginally passable talking babies diversion, but nothing more."

Like that film, this follow-up is visually appealing and has some cute and funny moments (the best being a school time out room where Enya's "Orinoco Flow" plays on a torturous endless loop). But as was the case with its predecessor, the story is the weak point.

Tina believes something fishy is going on at the Acorn School and who wouldn't considering it's run by the always delightfully wacky Jeff Goldblum. Okay, so it's actually Dr. Erwin Armstrong, but with Goldblum voicing that character, it's fun to hear his signature, halting cadence at play.

Anyway, needing some insiders to get her intel, Tina convinces her dad and uncle to be de-aged back into kid form to get into the school. All of which, of course, means that maybe just maybe they'll put their differences behind them and act like loving brothers once again. That, and the nefarious plot they uncover is about it for the story by returning scribe Michael McCullers. To compensate, director Tom McGrath -- also back -- moves things along at a frenetic and zany pace, akin to the sugar rush Armstrong experiences while partaking in sweets.

Most kids will probably dig that, but while there are bits here and there to keep adults engaged to one degree or another, the film feels like not much more than a retread of the original minus the novelty factor. As a result, "The Boss Baby: Family Business" rates just like its predecessor, a 5 out of 10.

Reviewed June 25, 2021 / Posted July 2, 2021

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