Scott Carney ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Tim (Miles Christopher Bakshi) is a seven-year-old boy with a hyperactive imagination who loves nothing more than being the center of attention for his parents (Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow). That attention soon becomes threatened when his parents announce he is getting a new baby brother. However, the new baby is not as normal as he appears, in that he is really a high profile businessman-baby(?) voiced by Alec Baldwin who refers to himself as “the boss baby.” He is going on an undercover mission for his company (Baby Co.) in order to stop a rival company (Pet Co.) from unveiling a new puppy that is so cute, it will stop adults from wanting babies.
This sounds like the type of ridiculous premise that would constitute a film in the 30 Rock universe or a 12:30 AM Saturday Night Live skit. However, this is the plot of the latest from DreamWorks Animation, the same studio that brought us classics like Shrek as well as recent great films like How to Train Your Dragon. To be fair, a film with an outrageous premise can still succeed with an engaging story and memorable characters. In this case, however, the film is as about as good as its title suggests.
The main problem with the film is that it doesn’t really take any of its audience members into account. The jokes in the film constitute references that are too mature for a child to understand, and too childish for an adult to appreciate. For example, the film seems to think the funniest thing about it is that a baby is talking about memos and stock prices. Kids won’t be able to relate to this joke and it wears thin for adults. On the flip side, the film has a plethora of fart and slapstick jokes, typical of the kids movie genre.
Aside from the comedy, the film also doesn’t quite succeed in its emotional story. For starters, Tim is a very forgettable protagonist, the type of good natured imaginative child we’ve seen in a million other films. Baldwin’s baby character is more memorable than Tim for obvious reasons, but beneath the ridiculousness of his outside appearance, he is just the standard work crazy curmudgeon who learns about the importance of family in the predictable manner. Even more, the connection that these two characters are supposed to forge does not feel natural but rather forced, as if the movie knows it has to hit the right beats so they become friends in the end. In fact, the only reason the two agree to work together in the first place is because they want each other out of their respective lives, and the film never gives a convincing enough argument for why they begin to like each other.
It would be easy to dismiss these flaws as The Boss Baby being a simple kids movie, but the success of recent films such as Zootopia indicate that kids can appreciate good storytelling just as much as the parents who take them to the theater. Case in point: the theater I screened this in was filled with kids and they were barely engaged in it. I heard one child lament that he wished he had stayed home and played on his iPad. Normally, I would encourage people to go out to a movie theater as opposed to simply watching content on their tablets, but in this case I couldn’t help but agree with him. If kids are expected to keep going out to the movies, they deserve better than The Boss Baby.
Overall Grade: C-
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