'Boss Baby 2': 6 things we learned from director Tom McGrath and producer Jeff Hermann (exclusive)
It has been three years since Alec Baldwin’s business-minded infant first swaggered into our lives as the protagonist of the — Oscar-nominated, lest we forget — 2017 animation The Boss Baby. With one foot in 30 Rock and another in his iconic Glengarry Glen Ross cameo, Baldwin wowed young and old audiences alike with possibly the maddest family movie of recent years.
For many, the character has never gone away. Netflix series The Boss Baby: Back in Business has run for four seasons since the movie premiered and, despite the absence of Baldwin, it has kept the franchise flame alive. The star is back, though, for the upcoming sequel The Boss Baby: Family Business — which has been in production throughout the chaotic Hollywood landscape of 2020.
Read more: These animated movies turn people into emotional wrecks
The first trailer for the sequel reveals that it picks up precisely where the first movie finished, with Tim and his Boss Baby brother now adults. Watch it below.
With the help of a magic formula, they’re able to regress to their younger selves for a final Baby Corp mission, assisting Tim’s daughter Tina (Amy Sedaris), who is herself a Boss Baby.
We got chance to chat to returning director Tom McGrath and producer Jeff Hermann about the movie, and they had plenty to talk about...
COVID-19 could not stop them
“For a time there, we were one of the only active productions in town,” says Hermann. The Boss Baby: Family Business was able to make the shift to working from home almost immediately once it became clear in March that the coronavirus pandemic was going to shut the doors of Hollywood for a while.
Read more: Coronavirus forces Minions 2 delay
Hermann adds: “Apart from just a few weeks of figuring out how to get the technology in place quickly to make it possible, it was mostly a pretty smooth transition.
“We had a good year and a half or two years together before COVID hit, so a lot of our shorthands and workflows and relationships were well-established. We weren't starting from scratch in any sense. It was literally just moving into a virtual space and continuing on. Everybody really was committed to keep going.”
McGrath says that Boss Baby 2 is both a huge movie and a “home-made movie” because so much of it was produced in people’s houses. The film is currently being completed in quarantine, with nine months or so of remote working in the can.
It’s partially a musical
A noticeable difference between The Boss Baby and its sequel is that there’s a big casting change at the top. Last time around, Spider-Man actor Tobey Maguire provided the voice for the older Tim, but he has been replaced in the sequel by James Marsden. The reason, as it turns out, comes down to song and dance.
“It came down to the needs of the story and the fact that Tim is much more of a comedic role this time around,” says Hermann. “And also, we have a little bit of music in this film which requires some singing. Wanting to find somebody who could pull off both of those aspects of the performance pointed us in this direction. James is incredible in that sense. He's very versatile as a dramatic actor, but also has really strong comedic skills and is an amazing singer.”
Read more: Best musicals on UK streaming
Marsden, of course, has considerable experience when it comes to musicals, having displayed his impressive vocal abilities in both Enchanted and Hairspray. Interestingly, he also has a Baldwin connection through his appearances as Criss Chros in 30 Rock. McGrath describes their relationship in Family Business as being “akin to Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin”, which sounds very promising indeed.
Ninjas are the tip of the iceberg
One sequence in the new trailer sees the Boss Baby fleeing dozens of ninjas as he races down a corridor and, according to McGrath, that’s the sort of spectacle that will be a huge part of the second movie.
He says: “Animation is always hard. The challenge everyone rose to is that this particular story has a lot more scope to it. It's a much bigger movie. The fact we have hundreds of ninjas chasing Boss Baby down a hallway in the trailer is a little bit of a tease of what you're going to see in this movie.”
Fair play to the Boss for pulling all of that off in such a snappy suit.
It’s not based on Donald Trump
Since the release of The Boss Baby, Alec Baldwin has grabbed headlines for portraying President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live. Naturally, comparisons have been made between the petulant baby in a suit... and the animated character. McGrath says Baldwin and the team “tried to avoid” any comparisons between the Boss Baby and the baby-like boss.
Read more: Donald Trump bullied his way into Home Alone cameo
He adds: “The first movie was well before any of that and I think instantly people projected a parallel. We're not making any kind of statement. It's more derived from his character on 30 Rock, I would say, than anything he has done recently on Saturday Night Live. Alec is very careful about that in creating his character.
“But people will project what they want to project. Speaking with the Russian press, they just thought there was a lot of similarities to Putin. We really wanted to just make him a bossy businessman in a little suit.”
Jeff Goldblum will almost certainly steal the show
The Boss Baby: Family Business introduces the vocal stylings of Jeff Goldblum as the mysterious Dr Armstrong — founder of the Acorn Center for Advanced Childhood. It’s no surprise that Hermann notes his performance has been as popular with animators as it will be with audiences. “He more than exceeds everyone's expectations for what you think Jeff Goldblum in an animated film is going to bring. The animators had a field day and are continuing to have a field day capturing his performance.”
He added that the animation style of Looney Tunes stalwart Chuck Jones was a huge influence on the first Boss Baby movie, which is a “made in heaven marriage” with Goldblum’s “quirky, unique persona”.
Read more: Goldblum teases MCU return
McGrath spoke about Goldblum’s incredible talents, but suggested that the Jurassic Park legend isn’t the only performer with show-stealing potential. “There's a character not in the trailer who will really bring a lot of warmth to the film and a unique perspective,” he says.
This might not be the end
On both the big and small screens, the universe of The Boss Baby has shown a considerable ability to endure, with it now existing as a bona fide pop culture franchise. Could there be more? “You hope a movie does well so you can keep working with these characters and the cast and the team and the world they're in,” hints McGrath, adding that “we just have to see how this one is received”.
For now though, McGrath’s attention is turned to this movie, which is due to receive a cinema release in March 2021, as long as multiplexes are able to open their doors in time.
He says: “In our hearts, we just hope that cinemas can be open again so that people can get together and watch it. There's something very communal about comedy and how laughter is contagious, so hopefully that will come back.
“Hopefully we'll come out at just the right time where families want to go out and do something and experience something together. Our goal is to have the parents laughing at one thing and the kids laughing at another, but they can enjoy it together.”
Watch: Soul filmmakers discuss future of cinemas