'The Boss Baby'
So, there’s this baby. He’s not like any baby, though. He talks and acts like a boss. That’s wacky. That’s the entire movie. It’s pretty dreadful.
Another month, another CG-animated family flick. So it goes. These things are more common than pretty much any other form of film these days. They vary dramatically in quality. Some (mostly Pixar) are masterpieces. Others (mostly non-Pixar) are horrible. ‘The Boss Baby’ falls into the latter category. The movie is hinged on precisely one joke that it keeps beating viewers over the head with for so long that not even the least demanding of kiddie audiences will find it funny by the end.
‘The Boss Baby’ takes place in a universe where there are two types of babies: typical infants who get sent down to Earth to grow up as normal kids, and management types. The management babies work in cubicles and offices doing… baby business? It’s not particularly clear. However, one of these babies (voiced by Alec Baldwin) is sent to a family in disguise. Only his brother (Miles Christopher Bakshi) notices. He can see that the infant is secretly holding baby meetings and long distance phone calls while his parents (Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow) aren’t paying attention. At first, it seems that might be a result of big bro’s overactive imagination, but then it becomes clear that’s not the case. Baldwin’s Boss Baby has snuck into the world in the hopes of shutting down some sort of conspiracy involving the cuteness of puppies distracting from the cuteness of babies. I wish I was making up that previous sentence. I’m not.
Based on a children’s book by Marla Frazee, it’s obvious that ‘The Boss Baby’ was originally intended to be a story about a boy imagining a wacky adventure with a baby brother he can’t quite connect with. Unfortunately, in order to turn the book into a movie, so much was added to the plotline that the original reading disappeared. Instead, it’s a big silly fantasy designed to have as many sequences of CGI adults making goofy “What just happened?” faces as possible. Beyond a handful of amusingly surreal cartoony visual sequences, this movie scrapes the absolute bottom of the barrel of animated family film gags, making even the deeply unnecessary ‘Ice Age’ sequels somehow feel substantial by comparison.
Aside from a few impressive visuals (which aren’t particularly distinguished and come along with any animated movie of this budgetary scale), the only real pleasure to be found in ‘The Boss Baby’ is the admittedly perfect casting of Alec Baldwin in the lead role. His soothingly ragged voice is indeed hilarious coming out of the mouth of an infant, and he admirably commits to the role. Baldwin is wise enough to know that playing all this silliness completely straight is the funniest approach. While the resulting mess of a movie isn’t worth his efforts, the way he treats the lame potty gags as Shakespeare is some sort of special accomplishment. It’s tempting to latch political commentary onto ‘The Boss Baby’ given that Baldwin is also regularly parodying a certain U.S. President right now, but given that the movie was made long before that series of unfortunate events, it’s best not to dwell too deeply. Any think-pieces can be written purely on the poster. Nothing in the movie warrants any significant thought.
‘The Boss Baby’ may not be the worst cinematic atrocity ever foisted on family audiences. For the most part, it’s merely mediocre, trotting out all the overly familiar “Believe in yourself” and “importance of family” messages that every other CGI family flick must preach. However, there’s something downright tragic about all the money, time and talent it took to make this instantly forgettable movie that’s summed up entirely by a title. Everyone involved could have done something better, especially the animators, who toiled for hundreds of hours on something that will be met with a mild shrug.