Reel Dad: “Boss Baby: Family Business” overflows on screen

"The Boss Baby: Family Business” is rated PG  and is showing in theaters and streaming on Peacock.

"The Boss Baby: Family Business” is rated PG  and is showing in theaters and streaming on Peacock.

Dreamworks / Contributed

Once upon a time, animated movies told simple tales.

When artists began to draw images for the screen, they focused on a few simple ideas in a film to make it easy for audiences to savor the visuals. Look at how such classics as “Dumbo” and “Snow White” brought simple narratives to life through their lush drawings.

Well, times have changed, and the new animated feature, “The Boss Baby: Family Business” contains as many plot threads as a complex thriller. The moviemakers put so much into one sitting that, by the time the movie ends, 107 long minutes later, it’s a bit challenging to even remember everything that happened. It’s a lot.

The original “Boss Baby” - released in 2017 - takes its time to let us settle into the gimmick of babies who sound like adults, and react like children, while handling challenging situations. The film works because it never strays too far from its central joke, that babies can be funny when what they say does not match who they are or how they may appear.

As with many sequels, the second “Boss Baby” segment tries to recreate what worked the first time around while imagining new situations to challenge its characters. As we learn in the first few minutes, this episode will focus less on situations in the workplace than it will explore dynamics in relationships, specifically between a work-at-home father and his business-comes-first brother. Through an exhaustive (and exhausting) series of situations, the two boys try to come to terms with what they mean to each other and how they inadvertently let the realities of day-to-day responsibilities get in the way of how they care.

If this was the only thing on the film’s mind, the plot could make it easy to navigate the exaggerated computer-generated visuals. But moviemaker Tom McGrath wants to do more, also tossing in challenges for parents when children believe they outgrow well-intentioned attention, complications that grandparents can create and trips back in time as he examines what families face when trying to balance their time together with other distractions. While the setups can be clever, and prompt beautifully-realized animated imagery, the film contains enough content to fill a couple of episodes. Ultimately, this “Boss Baby” offers too much.

And that’s too bad. McGrath and the creative team have a great idea that, over time, can teach as it entertains. And, certainly, some topics this film addresses are important for viewers of all ages to absorb. But when the action a movie delivers - no matter if animated or live action - gets in the way of the message it wants to convey, something needs to go.

Film Summary: The Boss Baby: Family Business

Content: Medium. This animated adventure from Dreamworks offers a stylized look at how people can approach relationships that matter.

Entertainment: Medium. The film's visual feast overwhelms what could be a meaningful story about the choices we make that can enrich our lives.

Message: Medium. As entertaining as the film tries to be - with humor along with rich characters - it is simply too much to absorb in one sitting.

Relevance: Medium. Anyone who cherishes the work of creative animators will savor the visuals in this film.

Opportunity for Dialogue: Medium. Because the film offers so much, there may not be much to talk about after it ends.

As with many creative efforts, when it comes to movies, less is often more.

“The Boss Baby: Family Business” is rated PG for “rude humor, mild language and some action,” runs 1 hour, 47 minutes, and is showing in theaters and on Peacock.