In the latest offering from the Boss Baby Extended Universe, the Grinch is now a capitalist kid who wants kids to pay to be on the good list and makes Santa resign.
I first saw The Boss Baby after it left theaters and became available for streaming years ago. My colleague Scaachi Koul was very supportive, Alec Baldwin was on SNL with Donald Trump, and I was a new parent, so I thought, why not? My son, still a toddler, enjoyed it, but to be honest, I loved it. It’s improbable that half a decade, a sequel movie, and several seasons of a Netflix series later, I still do.
Now there’s a Christmas special, The Boss Baby: Christmas Bonus, a sweet 45-minute film about Boss Baby’s misguided attempt to increase efficiency in Santa’s workshop.
At home, Boss Baby (now voiced by JP Karliak) can’t help but roll his eyes at his family’s serious participation in goofy, nonsensical Christmas traditions. Mall Santa turns out to be the real Santa Claus and a former Baby Corp employee who left to make the world a happier place with Christmas cheer. “He stole half the company for his toy-for-nothing program,” Boss Baby dejectedly explains to his brother, calling Santa a “commie.” A mix-up with one of the elves
Upon arrival, he can’t stand the inefficiency at Santa’s Workshop, so he implements new systems to streamline Christmas for profit. It’s painfully funny to see a white man-child step into a new place and feel obligated to explain to everyone that the way they’re doing things is wrong. He stirs up discontent among the elven children, presumably to open up a leadership opportunity.
Christmas Bonus is a cheeky take on the same lessons in many Christmas movies: the importance of connecting with loved ones and the pitfalls of both capitalism and modern cynicism. I appreciate that it avoids pretentiousness, as is often the case with classic Christmas movies, and that it moves at a pace that holds my attention better than, say, the old Charlie Brown or Grinch Christmas specials. Pretty much everything about the franchise’s premise – reckless toddlers in suits passing out wads of money like baby wipes, drinking a magic formula that keeps them from aging, using pacifiers to teleport them, tending to bottom lines, and changing diapers at the same time – makes her too bizarre. still pulling hard on the heart. The character has had his balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since 2020, and has the crowd chanting, “Boss Baby, Boss Ba-by” — he’s part of the zeitgeist. For all the gags, this corporate kid comedy still encourages me to think about how I can make my kids’ holidays meaningful beyond consumerism, and what joys I hope they experience can’t be bought.
I appreciate that it avoids pretentiousness, as is often the case with classic Christmas movies, and that it moves at a pace that holds my attention better than, say, the old Charlie Brown or Grinch Christmas specials.
At its core, the franchise has always been about the central role that grown-up love plays in a child’s life and the things that threaten to get in the way—puppies in the first film, school pressure, and cell phones in the sequel. He humorously shows how crazy it looks when children—infants—focus instead on the things we all have to worry about on some level as adults: success, careers, and money. When do our priorities change so fundamentally and what do we lose? Boss Baby achieves his dream of becoming a CEO (with a prized corner office complete with a private golden potty) in the original film only to face incredible loneliness at the top. In the sequel, his niece is a top student but a social outcast at a glitzy, competitive “advanced childhood” school, and her father worries he’s making her grow up too fast. In the holiday special, Boss Baby, with his ruthless industrialization of Christmas and his obsession with progress and innovation, destroys simple holiday traditions that exist only to make people happy, which he belatedly realizes is also important, even if he doesn’t care about everyone…
The franchise reminds all watching parents, especially those with high aspirations for their children, to remember how fleeting the joys of youth are before their children inevitably face the pressures of work and success. Despite all the wise ideas, the Boss Baby franchise has always been very enjoyable without being serious. The brief time in our lives when we don’t have to deal with such matters when our main concern is how much the adults in our lives love us is truly the privilege of childhood.
A lot of people don’t understand the appeal of Boss Baby. Being a Boss Baby tent, these critics remind me of the very character who got off the baby treadmill when he didn’t want to laugh when he was tickled and was shuffled into the lead with the other joyless babies. Nott me; maybe I just have a weakness for office satire, or maybe parents find the topics more resonant.
At this point, the franchise knows its fans. The Christmas special hit Netflix’s top charts over the weekend and remained in the top 10 kids’ shows afterward. Rumor has it that a third Boss Baby movie is in the works, and I hope the jokes and story remain sharp and avoid the predictable fan service. Even though I’m feeling franchise fatigue, I’d still be looking forward to the next installment in this exciting series.