Tim and Ted Templeton may have once been challenged to bond as brothers and save the day together. But that was a long time ago. Those days have been forgotten. Life has moved on, and in a way, so have they.
Tim and Ted would probably both say that they’re happy with where they are these days. Tim is a very creative, imaginative and loving stay-at-home dad. And former boss-baby Ted has grown up to be a successful CEO.
But if pressed, Tim would have to admit that he isn’t so sure he’s connecting with his super-bright, 2nd-grade daughter, Tabatha, as well as he should. And Ted might admit that he’s become something of a lone wolf who doesn’t really see his extended family members as often as he ought to. And if pressed further, they’d likely both agree that they haven’t stayed in touch with each other … at all.
All that, however, is about to change.
Tim may think he’s losing touch with Tabitha, that she’s growing up too fast and doesn’t want to be bothered with a dad who plays a few too many silly games. But in truth, there’s a much bigger problem at hand.
Tabitha’s school—run by an award-winning educational genius named Dr. Irwin Armstrong—is leading kids astray. Armstrong’s specialized schools are popping up all across the country, and they’re subtly turning kid’s everywhere against their families! In fact, Armstrong has some secret plans in the works that ulitimately won’t be all that subtle at all.
Of course, the adults of said families don’t have a clue about what’s going on. But the mysterious organization called Baby Corp. does. They monitor threats to babies around the world, and realize that kids everywhere will be adversely affected by what’s going on. So they’re taking action.
Baby Corp. has decided to call in two former agents—Tim and Ted Templeton—for this special mission. Ted was a former boss baby himself, after all. And together the brothers just might be able to infiltrate Tabatha’s school and set things right.
Of course, to do that, Tim and Ted will have to gulp down a special age-reversing baby formula. They’ll need to break out their sneakers, shorts and diapers … and become little kids once more.
Over the years Tim and Ted have become almost estranged, “You grow up, you grow apart,” Tim explains to his infant daughter, Tina. But Tina, the newest Baby Corp. boss baby, reveals her true, brilliant side to her dad. In fact, she sends him and his brother on a mission in which they come to realize how much they’ve missed and need their special brotherly relationship. Along the way, they also apologize to each other for missing important milestones in each other’s adult lives.
Tim and Ted also both forge closer ties to Tabitha and the whole Templeton family. When Tim laments not being more financially successful in life, Ted responds, “Sure, Tim, I made a lot of money. But you made a family! The truth is, it’s lonely at the top.”
Tim and Tabitha both voice their love for one another, and Tim makes it clear that he’s very proud of who his daughter is and the choices she makes. And the film as a whole repeatedly encourages adult viewers to put away their phones and get back to having fun with their family, interacting without a technology buffer.
Tim has stored his old childhood bed and several boxes of old clothes and toys in the attic. When he becomes a boy again, he hides up there and finds a talking Wizard alarm clock. It complains to him that its long storage was like being “cast into darkness.” Later, after hearing strange noises from baby Tina’s room, the Wizard wonders if the sounds are “A creature of the night? Witches? The baying of the hounds of hell?”
There’s a small nativity scene in the school holiday pageant. The babified Ted dresses up with a halo and joins in. A kid asks of Ted, “Is that the baby Jesus?” Tabitha sings a song of unity dressed as an angel while standing at the top of a huge Christmas tree. The Templetons celebrate Christmas morning together.
Tim and his wife Carol are a loving couple. They kiss briefly. When Tim and Ted are transformed into children again, baby Ted ends up naked. He’s always kept covered by well-placed scenery, but at one point little Tina blanches at the unexpected unclothed baby body she spies off-camera.
Tumbling and thumping shenanigans turn up frequently the story mix. While trying to get to school, for instance, young Tim and Ted crash through town on a runaway pony. Neighborhood fences are smashed, storefronts are demolished, a large tree in the public square is set afire and dragged through the streets, and we see some kind of huge explosion from a distance.
There are whirling battles between adult-sized robots, electric shocks, rioting children, crowds of zombie-like adults, and all sorts of other mayhem that happens in school halls and other nearby areas.
And when large crowds aren’t clashing, there are also smaller struggles at times between Tim and Ted. The boys fight and wrestle, thumping each other around and into walls and scenery. They end up tweaking each other’s nipples at one point. In another situation they find themselves caught in a small room filling with water, before being saved.
We hear a couple uses of “darn,” one use of the word “crap” and about seven cries of “oh my gosh!” (One of those could have been a misuse of God’s name). There is also one exclamation each of the phrases, “Aw, poopy!” “What the frittata?” “Good heavens” and “Good God!”
Tina gives Tim and Ted a specialized, age-reducing baby formula that turns them young again. Dr. Armstrong eats candy and sugar and drinks soda constantly, as if feeding an obsessive addiction. He even drinks his Coke in wine glasses.
When Ted first shows up at the Templeton family’s front door, he’s rather self-focused and throws cash around to solve every problem. In fact, he’s known for sending “inappropriately lavish gifts” instead of actually showing up for family holidays.
A mean-spirited boy at Tabitha’s school bullies her and others. In his jealousy of her, that boy even begins a plan to embarrass her publicly in front of her family and other gathered adults.
Tina grouses about certain people, calling them a “bunch of diaper-sniffers.” A dismal tune (which is played as a joke) in the kids’ holiday pageant at school glumly describes the impending doom facing kids thanks to global warming and selfish adult choices.
Someone gets ejected from the backside of a large robot. Some younger kids in one particular class at school are very rebellious and disaster prone—breaking things, causing havoc, eating glue and paste, etc. There are one or two diaper jokes in the mix.
[Spoiler Warning] Armstrong preaches against parents and family, and we discover he has a plot to take control of everything by taking control of children. “You don’t need parents,” he proclaims. “What can they possibly give you?” “How about unconditional love?” young Tina replies. People are hypnotized by a mesmerizing phone app.
The Boss Baby: Family Business accomplishes something many sequels never pull off: It improves on the original.
Sure, 2017’s The Boss Baby was cute and all. But let’s face it, Alec Baldwin’s boss baby got to be a little irritating, and the movie’s diaper potty humor was, well, a little in your face at times. (And that’s the last place you want a dirty ol’ diaper to be.) This sequel, however, has more characters and a lot more going on. So there’s not as much time to wallow in the, uh, mire of things.
Yes, there’s still potty humor to be found; and there’s lots of tumbling, slapstick humor of the splat and dribble sort. But this is a rollicking pic filled with babies, chewed paste, slobbered-over lollipops and mad geniuses, so that sorta comes with the territory.
More importantly, though, Boss Baby: Family Business is an animated sequel filled with heart and playful charm. There are great dad and daughter moments that’ll moisten even the most stoic dads’ eyes. And there are some very nice messages about the incredible value of a loving family in general, as well as nods toward the far-reaching bonds of family members—even when they’re of the squabbling sibling stripe.
Hey, this pic may not be as fun as that uproarious water balloon fight that instantaneously broke out at your last backyard barbeque and made it the memorable family event of the summer. But Uncle Chuck would likely still give it a thumbs up.
And Uncle Bob liked it quite a bit, too.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.