12 October 2018 ~ 0 Comments

MOVIE REVIEW: The Boss Baby

written by David Steffen

The Boss Baby is a 2017 computer animated comedy/action film produced by Dreamworks Animation, released in March 2017.

Where do babies come from?  Nope, not where you think.  They come from a factory, (shown in the opening credits of the movie), an assembly line producing seemingly endless babies.  Most of them fit all of the standard characteristics expected of babies, and those babies are all shipped off to live with familes.  But occasionally one comes down the line that just doesn’t fit the mold, doesn’t do what’s expected of babies such as laughing when tickled, and those babies… are management material.

Seven-year-old Tim Templeton (Miles Bakshi, with adult version narrator as Toby Maguire) is the only kid of two busy but loving parents, and he doesn’t want anything to change.  But one day he sees a baby wearing a business suit exiting a taxi outside the house, and when he runs downstairs to see what’s going on, his parents announce he has a new baby brother.  Something weird is going on here, at first it seems like a normal baby, as disrupting as that can be on its own, but when other babies visit for a playdate Tim catches the baby leading a business meeting and the jig is up.  The baby is known only as Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin) and he works for a company called Baby Corp who give their employees a special formula that keeps that in the shape of a baby but with the mind of a human as long as they keep drinking it regularly.  Boss Baby has been assigned to the Templeton family because Mr. (Jimmy Kimmel) and Mrs. Templeton (Lisa Kudrow) work for Puppy Co, Boss Corp’s biggest competitor (with “love” being  the currency the two companies run on, apparently?).  If Tim wants to get his house back to normal, he’s got to help Boss Baby complete his mission so that he can be called back to the corporation.

I can see why this would be a hit with kids.  I realize I’m not the demographic this was aimed at, but, well, if you don’t enjoy overexamining children’s entertainment, you may as well stop reading now.  For what it’s worth, I love a lot of kid’s movies, and when it comes to movies in general I am not generally a very harsh judge; there are many kids movies I love to itty-bitty pieces.  This was an interesting idea, if rather convoluted and based on patchy worldbuilding (where does Baby Corp’s money come from?).  I found Boss Baby more than a little bit annoying, in large part because he is exactly the model of an irritating stereotypical middle management type that doesn’t care about people and just wants to elevate his status in the company.  This made him very hard to relate to.  Not that the viewer was supposedly to relate to Boss Baby, but while it is a bit funny to have a baby spouting middle management aphorisms, I didn’t think it was enough to build a feature length film from.

Tim was much more relatable (purposefully so) but his entire fight just seemed futile to me, perhaps because I saw the inciting incident as largely metaphorical–it seems like he’s making up an elaborate fantasy world in order to justify the new disruption to his life, but, I hate to break it to you kid, if your parents have a baby brother you can’t just make him go away by completing a quest.  The movie was about halfway over before I was reasonably convinced that any of this was actually happening and not metaphorical.  This was confused more by some of the ways the movie showed briefly the parent’s point of view, especially in a dangerous high speed toy car chase scene in the back yard where when we see it from Tim’s point of view, but from the parents the baby is barely moving in his pedal car–if that was apparently incredibly exaggerated, then what else was too?

I love a lot

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