The Boss Baby, 2017.
Directed by Tom McGrath.
Featuring the voice talents of Alec Baldwin, Miles Christopher Bakshi, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, and Tobey Maguire.
Life is great for seven year old Tim. As an only child, he gets his parents’ undivided attention – until his baby brother arrives and monopolises Mum and Dad. Tim feels pushed out, but then he discovers this is no ordinary baby. Not only does he wear a suit and tie and carry a briefcase, he’s a micro manager on a mission.
A little lad is perfectly happy as an only child until everything is upended by the arrival of a baby brother. The boy feels neglected, the baby is stroppy, constantly demanding and loud, the whole home descends into chaos, and Mom and Dad are constantly frazzled. Sounds like a decent enough idea for an animation…….
Except that DreamWorks have run into much the same problem with The Boss Baby that Illumination had last year with The Secret Life Of Pets. What sounds like a promising concept just doesn’t have enough juice in the tank to sustain a whole film. Last summer’s movie promised to show what pets get up to when their owners aren’t at home, but ended up having to invent a whole storyline involving a crazed white rabbit. The Boss Baby needed something to go with the new arrival’s suit and briefcase, as well as keeping the momentum going, so it opted for an organisation trying to quash the cuteness of puppies. The film deserves more.
Of course, the puppies and the babies – there’s a lot more than just one! – means the cuteness factor is set at high. You might wonder why puppies rather than kittens, given the popularity of all those online videos, but cats being the smarty-pants they are, it wouldn’t have worked: they would have foiled everything. So all those babies on the conveyor belt, being tickled, having their bottoms powdered and the like are decidedly cute. But there is just a little bit more than just the aaah factor!
At times the film is very nicely observed. The whole business of young Tim (voice of Miles Bakshi) feeling left out because of the arrival of the new – and very dominant – baby hits the nail squarely on the head. You feel for the boy, especially as the new arrival has the unerring ability to be perfect in his parents’ eyes and plays up to it shamelessly. As far as they’re concerned, he can do no wrong.
Like a lot of today’s animations, there’s plenty here for the adults. The usual film references, for one, this time from Apocalypse Now to Mary Poppins, although some are so brief you’ll miss them if you blink.
And classical favourites creep into Hans Zimmer’s score: Prokofiev’s Romeo And Juliet and Holst’s Planets are just two. They’re good matches for their respective scenes. And there’s a sense of nostalgia for old TV series like The A Team, all of which points to a certain indecision about the who the film is aimed at. It has a U certificate, but is it really for the youngsters?
It’s all rather uneven. When it gets it right – the jokes, the observation, the action –you’re with the film all the way. It also earns a gold star for its casting of Alec Baldwin as the baby’s voice: there’s a definite facial resemblance between him and his animated alter-ego, especially around the mouth. But overall it simply isn’t consistent enough, suffering from the over-wrought plot that’s been created to pad things out.
You find yourself wishing for more peaks and less troughs, but you don’t get them. Ultimately, The Boss Baby is enjoyable enough, but eminently forgettable. It won’t give you any sleepless nights.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★