The more you try to verbalize such things, the more absurd it all sounds, of course. But is it really anything more ridiculous than the war-fought-under-our-noses elements of “Underworld,” “Matrix” or “John Wick” movies? It all comes down to world building. And like the adult franchises, when you watch enough “Boss Baby” (including the “Back in Business” series on Netflix), it starts to make sense because you get the “rules” and the movies do a good job of stay within them.
There’s a new heartfelt B story in play here, this time about Tim’s second daughter, the 7-year-old prodigy Tabitha (Ariana Greenblatt from “In the Heights”). A lead student at Armstrong’s Acorn Center for Advanced Childhood, she spends her free time remembering the periodic table and wearing Ruth Bader Ginsburg slippers. She also grows apart from her father and instead chooses to decide Uncle Ted, who is successful in business but only makes his presence felt in the family by sending overly extravagant gifts for holidays and birthdays.
This leads to the incredibly stupid Tim posing as “Marcos Lightspeed” and going undercover in his daughter’s advanced classroom while appearing to be the same age. Ted, meanwhile, is stuck in a low-performance class where kids stick crayons up their noses and cover themselves in glue. There are many jokes with “Shawshank Redemption” as Boss Baby Ted has to organize these rugrats to help him escape.
When we talk about “Shawshank Redemption”, one of the strangest things about the original “Boss Baby” was its willingness to not only make jokes for the parents, but also to go after some pretty obscure ones. Sure, Alec Baldwin’s cruel voice as a baby was inspired by casting, but did the audience really pick up on “Glengarry Glen Ross” jokes from a 1992 movie? The same could be wondered here with throwing lines about “Norma Rae” and Enya. But an ongoing gag involving Tim’s enthusiastic alarm clock wizard who says “Lord of the Rings” is delightful, even when such references hover over the heads of the audience.