“The Boss Baby”

FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Last night, I saw “The Boss Baby,” which is voiced by Alec Baldwin (The Departed, Beetlejuice), Miles Bakshi (Shrek Forever After, Puss in Boots: The Three Diablos), Steve Buscemi (Fargo [1996], Monsters Inc.), Jimmy Kimmel (Project X, Ted 2), Lisa Kudrow (Friends [TV series], P.S. I Love You), and Tobey Maguire (Pleasantville, Spider-Man [2002]). It was directed by Tom McGrath (Madagascar, Megamind), while the screenplay was written by Michael McCullers (Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me). Tim Templeton (Bakshi) is a seven-year-old who loves the attention he gets from his parents and the life he leads. However, his world is soon turned upside down when a suit-wearing baby shows up and steals his thunder. Now it is up to Tim to figure out what this baby is up to and expose his true nature to his parents.

What’s the deal, DreamWorks? You release the ever-so mediocre “Trolls” and decide to follow that up with “The Boss Baby”? Please, you’re better than this. I remember the good ol’ days where you presented us classic films like “Shrek,” “Spirit,” “Madagascar,” and “Monsters vs. Aliens.” Those were funny, and had some interesting concepts to make for a fun ride. Now, it’s all about pleasing the kids, if that’s what you consider this stuff to be doing. I mean, the kids were the primary objective since the company’s conception, but adults’ were given something to join in on when the movie rolled. Look back at all of the adult humor found in DreamWorks’ earlier works; the evidence is there. With “The Boss Baby” comes the same-old-same-old that DreamWorks has been churning out for the last few years: bland characters, a loose story, and plenty of kiddy humor. I expected nothing more because the trailers didn’t really sell anything for me. But, I got pulled into watching it anyway, and I guess it was a little better than what I thought. I mean, I wasn’t bored out of my mind, so that’s a good thing, right? Before I dive into my criticism of “The Boss Baby,” let me list what it actually did good. For starters, the animation. We all knew that the animation was going to be good, and DreamWorks has upped their game since “Trolls.” I enjoyed looking at the design, as well as its shift in animation style from time to time when it went into Tim’s imagination. Second, the voice acting was pretty good. This brought together quite a few big names, ranging from Alec Baldwin to Tobey Maguire, and they all did well in inhibiting the characters they voiced. Lastly, there were a few moments that I genuinely laughed at. There weren’t nearly as many humorous scenes that I wanted, but at least I can say I laughed. Now onto the main subject of this review: why “The Boss Baby” fails. It’s quite clear that this is a kid’s movie within a broken, adultish concept. A baby dressed in a suit, voiced by Alec Baldwin, comes to reap the benefits of a family with only one kid. Work is talked about and the upkeep of a baby is constantly referred to. It’s as if I jumped back into the “Storks” film. Honestly, there could’ve been a great animated feature to come out of this idea. However, the studio decided to gift us a one-sided, predictable adventure filled with very little good jokes and characters we hardly even care about. On top of that, most of it makes no sense! No one is the least bit confused as to how babies arrive by taxi? What about the bad guy’s master plan? I’m not going to explain that, not only because I will spoil the film, but also because it makes absolutely no sense. Everything is surface level with this picture in terms of what is logical. There is little explanation given to what takes place, as the writers want the audience to play along with it. Now, I get it; when you have a talking baby as your forefront, you should automatically assume that it’s going to be silly since it can’t happen. I mean, look at DreamWorks other movies: a panda that does Kung-fu, a guy who rides dragons for fun, and a bee that goes to court. The world of animation can get insanely fictional, but that doesn’t mean the narrative has to make no sense. “The Boss Baby” has plenty of moments that left me wondering what the point of everything was, or how something specifically happened. One example includes Tim’s crazy imagination. You figure these sequences are all in his head, but when he faces off against a squad of babies, almost all the destruction that happens in the backyard is actually true. This makes no sense because it would have to mean that all Tim did prior in his head came true. This movie takes almost no time to give clarity to anything whether it’s in literal exposition or character development, and it made me frustrated. The only way to enjoy this further is to turn of your brain and agree with all that takes place on the screen. A baby wearing a suit that the parents didn’t buy him doesn’t arouse suspicion? Okay. Neighborhood babies talking when only management babies can do so? Makes sense. Boss baby’s boss never checking up on his progress even though she made it clear she would? I can buy it. There’s just so much crap that is glazed over in order to simply push the narrative that it gets distracting. Sure, I laughed at some scenes and I’ll admit that there were a few entertaining moments, but “few” and “some” don’t make up the whole. This is a slap to the face when it comes to animation, and is sad to see unfold when thinking about the future of the film medium. While “The Boss Baby” isn’t an atrocity, it’s such a lazy release that doesn’t attempt to make clear sense of itself or push the envelope with its idea. Of course, I didn’t expect it to by the trailers, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t surprise me and go above my expectations. Their story was messy and their characters have little reason for me to care, and those two aspects alone should be enough to push viewers away. If you’re looking for a great animation feature, look somewhere else. This baby isn’t nearly as cute as the charade this movie tries to play on its audience. FINAL SCORE: 61%= Burnt Popcorn

Here is the trailer:

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