TL;DR – Ok it is a really silly premise, but this aside, they actually do a really good job of creating a charming film, with some interesting characters.
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
P.S. There are Mid/Post Credits scenes (but you do not need to stay for them)
So you are living a great life just you and your parents, fighting space monsters, exploring the jungle, being swallowed by deep sea monsters only to be rescued by hot sauce, you know the normal childhood stuff. However, one day a cab pulls up and out pops a baby wearing a suit and your whole life is turned upside down. This is Boss Baby and yes it is a silly a set up as it sounds, made more silly by everyone committing to the framing device completely. So you probably already know if you are going to go see a movie about a talking business baby already, or you are a parent and have no choice … but as a film, even a really silly film, it actually is a surprisingly good one.
Much like Inside Out, it is telling the story about growing up and dealing with a change in life, in this case being the addition of a new baby to the family. How do you process such a radical change to your life, when your world changes in an instant? Look if you are over the age of say ten, you will probably be able to work out what is happening from the start, even if you don’t quite work out what the framing device is that they are using for the story. This means that even though the story is solid you will probably be able to guess the trajectory of the film from quite early in the piece. One area where it does shine is the opening set up, from the depictions of the Baby Corp sorting machine and Boss Baby’s (Alec Baldwin) early life, to what Tim’s (Miles Bakshi) life is like with his parents (Jimmy Kimmel & Lisa Kudrow), it gives you a really good idea of who these two characters are which makes it more interesting when they smash into each other’s lives. One area the film takes a lot of time in is packing a lot of references into its runtime, everything from Mary Poppins to Mad Max Fury Road, and all in-between. As the story goes on it is kind of standard stuff, and none of the big reveals will be that surprising to you because they are all heavily foreshadowed. However, it is a solid story, with some really touching moments, also some dark moments, but a fun time all the same.
Now as it is an animated film then one of the things we need to look at is the animation itself. Like all Dreamworks animated films, there is a certain style to their animations and character creations that are continued here. I’m not the biggest fan of the style, and it does feel like they need to branch out a little more, but for a kids film, it works really quite well. All the motion is fluid, this is really important around the action sequences, as it is always clear what is happening. Where the animation starts to really shine is in some of Tim’s imagination sequences, like when he dresses up as a ninja, these were visually stunning and a good spin on story and art style up to that point. From an animation perspective, it is a solid film, there were no glaring issues with tone or style, and there were a lot of small visual gags that made the film more entertaining.
When it came to the voice acting I think everyone did a good job with their respective roles. Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow worked great as a team playing Tim’s parents, they captured what it is like to be a new parent really well, and their back and forth banter was one of the highlights of the film. Alec Baldwin’s what if ‘Jack Donaghy’ was a baby is a spot on recreation, but a lot of the business jokes start to lose their impact as the film progresses. Given that most of the emotional weight of the film rests on Tim I was really impressed with Miles Bakshi performance, he really captures what it is like to be at that age and watch your world change around you.
Now while I did like Boss Baby there were some things that didn’t work as well as I would have liked. First, for a long time in this kind of children movies there have been jokes for the kids but also those that fly over the tops of the kids head meant for the parent having to sit through the film, i.e. Shrek’s ‘I think he’s compensating for something’. However, here I don’t think they got the balance right, and there may actually be more things for the adults than the kids, which while fun for me, I don’t know if that will work as well for the younger audience. Also while I like the framing device of the film, I think they could have taken it a bit further. But these are really only small things that don’t really take away from the enjoyment of the film.
In the end, I did quite enjoy Boss Baby, more than I thought I would, it is a solid family film, it is quite funny, and also deals with an interesting time in a child’s life. Also, those puppies are super cute, like you have no idea how cute those puppies are, seriously oh my totes adorbs. Ah, wait where was I? Look if you are a parent and you are looking for a film to take your young children too that you also might like then this is the one for you.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Directed by – Tom McGrath
Screenplay by – Michael McCullers
Based on – The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee
Music by – Hans Zimmer
Edited by – James Ryan
Starring – Alec Baldwin, Miles Bakshi, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Steve Buscemi, ViviAnn Yee & Eric Bell Jr.
Rating – Australia: G; Canada: G; NZ: G; UK: U; USA: PG