The Boss Baby movie review

bossbaby-gallery3-gallery-imagePhoto Credit: DreamWorks Animation

The Boss Baby, based on Marla Frazee’s popular picture book of the same name, is told from seven-year-old Tim’s point of view. Tim is threatened by the taxi arrival of the suit-wearing, briefcase-carrying Boss Baby—his little brother. Tim’s suspicions of the Boss Baby’s agenda are soon confirmed but to get rid of the usurper he will have to sideline the sibling rivalry and help the Boss Baby thwart the plans of the evil CEO of Puppy Co.

Animated as if it’s a live-action film replete with wide-angle panning and tracking shots, we are promised a Toy Story-like adventure. And it delivers. Its fast paced action sequences move quickly from one scene to the next, not letting up until the credits roll.

But that satisfaction is fleeting. Even though the action scenes, reminiscent of old Looney Tunes cartoons, are fun and full of mayhem they quickly become formulaic and hackneyed. By the end of the movie the comedy element in them only elicits a smirk in the same way a dad joke does.

The actual laughs come by way of the brilliant casting of Alec Baldwin in the titular role, who essentially resurrects Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock. He delivers the punch lines with the same aplomb. The one-liners, dripping with sarcasm, are constant and on point. No opportunity for a retort is missed. In one scene when Tim finishes reading Hansel and Gretel the Boss Baby quips, ‘Cannibalism and burning people. No wonder you’re messed up’. Alec Baldwin is what keeps you interested in the story.

bossbaby-gallery1-gallery-imagePhoto Credit: DreamWorks Animation

Though the delivery is good the material is stale. No ground is broken here. The pop culture references sprinkled throughout are old and tired. There’s a Tony Robbins-style motivational speech, a giant Mouse Trap game, and a nod to The Matrix.

They focus more on the three-act structure itself than on the content. They’re so busy trying to hit all the major plot points that good original material is sacrificed. They fall back on clichés and platitudes to keep the story rolling. There’s a groan-worthy sequence involving a gaggle of Elvises and Las Vegas. Is there no other way to get the protagonists to Las Vegas? They think it’s clever, I think it’s lazy.

But the biggest sin is awaiting you at the end where you’re greeted with the most hated cliché of them all. It’s akin to: it was all a dream.

bossbaby-gallery2-gallery-imagePhoto Credit: DreamWorks Animation

The movie also overcomplicates itself by exploring two themes: sibling rivalry and the importance of imagination and play. It’s trying to cover all of its bases by aiming one at the kids and the other at the adults. It results in the superficial treatment of the themes and the use of the aforementioned clichés and platitudes to get its point across quickly.

This treatment also makes the subtext feel heavy-handed as if they don’t trust their audience to get it. It gets a little annoying.

On the plus side they nicely tie up loose ends and every gun introduced is used. There is no element that doesn’t make a reappearance at a pivotal moment. For a pedant this is hugely satisfying.

Despite all I’ve said little people will love this movie. They’re not old enough or jaded enough to have seen it all before. It’s the adults who will feel more ‘eh’ about it. Its by-the-numbers script is pleasant enough just not memorable, but there are worse ways to spend 97 minutes.

Ultimately, this is another DreamWorks movie that sits in the ‘Pixar does it better’ camp.

Score: 6/10

 

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2 thoughts on “The Boss Baby movie review

  1. Sorry to hear that Dreamworks are responsible for yet another middle-of-the-road animated flick made to appeal to children and adults alike, and managing to miss the mark on both counts. This seems to be an ongoing pattern for them when taking a chance on original properties. It’s no surprise that, like Pixar, they return to the safety of sequels time and again. Oh well, it’ll be interesting to see how they go with Shrek 5.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Had a hot date night planned to see the Boss Baby with a promising Tinder match, so really glad there were no spoilers in this top notch review. But now you’ve got me second guessing whether to even book the tickets! Sounds like a shortcut to getting him back to the house when I invite him ’round to watch Finding Nemo – stick with the classics.

    Liked by 1 person

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