The best kids’ movies are the ones that manage to entertain children without forgetting the parents that will be watching with them. Most Pixar films, for example, have been adored because they are able to perfectly blend material for children and material for adults and make it suitable for all. DreamWorks’ latest film The Boss Baby takes that sentence and churns it out literally, both the children and adults part and the suitable part. Unfortunately, they forgot the perfectly part.
Tim Templeton (Miles Bakshi) is a seven-year-old only boy with a huge imagination who loves his life with his two parents (Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow). One day, however, his parents surprise him with a baby brother (Alec Baldwin), and Tim starts to feel all he cherished slipping away from him. Tim notices some strange behavior from the new baby, including the fact that he wears a suit, and learns that he can talk and works for a company called BabyCorp. “Boss Baby” is on a mission to learn the evil plans of their cuteness rival, PuppyCorp, and Tim must work together with him if he is to get his parents back to themselves.
This is actually a pretty interesting concept for a film. It has tons of potential to explore the feelings of an older sibling dealing with a new baby taking over the house (in other words, becoming the boss), with a lot of opportunities for humor along the way. And for the first 30 minutes or so, it does this pretty well. But once Tim officially learns what’s going on with Boss Baby (that is his actual name, by the way), it pretty much gives that up and becomes a by-the-numbers animation. The plot is incredibly predictable and formulaic, and some of it comes off pretty forced as well. After Tim agrees to help Boss Baby, take a moment to try and predict the rest of the movie. You’ll probably be right.
The humor is also only half successful. The comedic potential for babies acting like adults is huge. That’s why Stewie Griffin is such a popular character. And you can’t get much better than Alec Baldwin for this role. There are actually some really funny jokes in here, most of them using this comedic hook. But a lot of them are also really repetitive, and the amount of juvenile jokes is just ridiculous. No one should ever be subjected to that much baby butt. Boss Baby himself can get a little tiring as well. His shtick never lets up, and that will definitely start to grate on some viewers.
One area where The Boss Baby truly succeeds is in animation. It’s not photo-realistic or anything as impressive as the most recent Pixar films, but it’s reminiscent of an old cartoon, which makes the complete zaniness feel a little more comfortable. Every once in awhile, the film will show us a scene out of Tim’s imagination, and the almost 2D animation is so colorful and looks absolutely gorgeous. These scenes are some of the best in the film. They look great, they add to Tim’s character, and they’ll feel nostalgic for adults.
That said, the large focus on Tim’s imagination can throw you off a bit. Sometimes you’ll start to wonder if this is all real or if he’s imagining the whole thing. There’s enough evidence to believe that it’s real though, so it just comes off as clumsy work on the part of director Tom McGrath and screenwriter Michael McCullers. In the end, The Boss Baby is just an okay film. It starts off with a lot of potential, but throws it away in favor of generic animation fare. But it’s often funny, looks good, and is pretty clever with its increasingly ridiculous world building. Your kids will probably enjoy it, so it’s a respectable distraction.