‘The Boss Baby: Back in Business’ Finds Big Laughs in Diaper Humor
“The Boss Baby: Back in Business” brings the world of the 2017 Dreamworks movie “The Boss Baby” to Netflix as a series. It extends the gags and in-jokes to episodic level, giving us one new caper after another with the title character. As entertainment it’s designed to make kids chortle until it hurts, for adults it captures all that is cute and daunting about infants. Like a Roald Dahl book you wonder at times if the showrunners themselves even like kids, so vicious does the humor get. One minute a baby is running to hug his mommy, the next he eats too much sugar and squeals like a demented warlord. But it’s all in good fun.
We’re back in the suburban home of a kid named Tim (Pierce Gagnon), who lives with his parents, the Templetons, and baby brother, Boss Baby (JP Karliak). Boss Baby lives a secret life as an official at an underground organization named BabyCorp. Run by infants with adult IQs, BabyCorp makes and keeps track of the world’s babies, making sure they continue to inspire love and affection. If a baby gets out of control, BabyCorp sends someone to try and fix the problem. Their boss is the sarcastic, overbearing Mega Fat CEO Baby (Flula Borg). Of course there is major competition from other sources of cute, such as kitties. In fact, BabyCorp is facing a major threat from a nefarious villain named Bootsy Calico (Jake Green) who seeks to overrun the town with cute cats and provoke a hatred for all things baby. When Tim discovers what Baby Boss does, he soon gets pulled into the antics of the group and their infant vs. cat stand-off.
“The Boss Baby: Back in Business” is obviously designed for children. But Dreamworks has always been sly with its animation when it comes to sneaking in satire and adult humor going back to 1998’s “Antz.” From afar the premise can seem absurd, like the kind of idea that works only with a 5-year-old viewer. But for adults there’s a wicked pleasure in seeing how the show makes fun at the more unsavory aspects of infancy. In the first episode a savage baby named Scooter Buskie wrecks havoc around the neighborhood. Boss Baby can’t seem to figure out how to calm this kid down. Scooter refuses to obey, chews and throws everything around. In one of the episode’s masterful scenes the little terror finds a plate of sweets and devours them all, cackling with toothless gums as the sugar rush hits him like a speedball. There’s also a baby swing that flips out of control and begins attacking humans. Baby Boss finds himself one morning “unable to go boom boom,” and the parents start desperately trying to find a way to get him to relax, including making prune juice. During one caper, BabyCorp team member Staci Alex Cazares) raises a rubber bow and arrow and proclaims, “I’m never going back to daycare! I will go out in blood and fire!” It’s as if the writers have taken the fine details of child rearing and filtered them through the madness of cartoons.
The whole plot angle involving a war between babies and cats is also absurd fun. Cats in this show may look cute and furry on the surface, but they are actually tools in a scheme by Bootsy Calico to win over the populace’s affections away from babies. The kiddies will giggle at the antics, but adults can grin at the political humor thrown in (“cats are anarchists, they don’t abide by any rules”). One particularly funny gag involves the governor, reduced by an incident to speaking in pure baby talk, which apparently made him the perfect fit for public office. Touches like this won’t make it a chore to sit with your own kid or another small family member to enjoy this series.
“The Boss Baby: Back in Business” is a goofy enjoyment. It’s essentially all antics, but written with a fine balance between diaper humor and a bit of wit, or just enough to make the adults in the room appreciate the material. It’s very family friendly while poking fun at the trials and tribulations of raising a bundle of joy.
“The Boss Baby: Back in Business” Season 1 premieres April 6 on Netflix.