The Boss Baby

Is Dreamworks latest animation the Boss?

The Boss Baby

Certificate: U

Running Time: 97 minutes

Director: Tom McGrath

Cast:  Alec Baldwin, Miles Christopher Bakshi, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel and  Lisa Kudrow

(Movie House Cinemas Press Screening)

Synopsis

A suit-wearing briefcase-carrying baby pairs up with his seven-year old brother to stop the dastardly plot of the CEO of Puppy Co.

Look at him! He wears a suit…

Review

Being a parent, guardian, sibling (or cool Uncle in my case) involves sacrifice from time to time. Whether you are parting with money for the latest must have toy, or giving up a couple of hours of your life to hear the kids laugh at a movie is not intended for your demographic.  It has to be done I suppose.

Every now and then you get a surprise, the unthinkable, a movie that appeals to the kids and can satisfy the adults in the room. Whether it’s the sentimentality and sheer heart of the Toy Story trilogy (for my money one of the greatest trilogies in cinema history). Or the laugh a minute and geek satisfying Lego Batman movie (still my favourite film of the year so far).

What I’m trying to say here is that I went in to Boss Baby with open eyes and no expectations. To give a more accurate review I brought along Anna, Katie and Michael, my beautiful nieces and nephew. Were they impressed? Was I?  Yes and no.

I can only respond as an adult and a critic and therefore I must. Boss Baby is a very visually satisfying piece of work from Tom McGrath who has already planted himself firmly in the animation field with the Madagascar movies and Megamind. The visual style and kinetic editing employed here attempt to echo the works of Edgar Wright and did deliver some delight to me as a lover of such material.

The screenwriters occasionally attempt to throw in some specific adult humour, including I may add a possible joke about fellatio (or maybe I’m just reading too much in to it). And come on, who doesn’t want to laugh at a fart joke every now and again?

What certainly did not appeal to me is the plot, or lack thereof. What I assumed would be a simple, albeit unorthodox story of sibling rivalry garnished with a drizzle of sentiment, actually became more complicated and convoluted as each plot point came to pass. The film seems undecided as to whether its setting is reality or some sort of hyper reality that is only apparent to the children (a more interesting take in my opinion).  As a consequence the final result is a contradictory and unclear film with a confusing plot to rival that of Inception.

The obligatory scenes of action seemed bland and paled in comparison to contemporaries such as the incinerator scene in Toy Story 3 (I’m not crying I just have something in my eye OK?).

Alec Baldwin is clearly the star and focus of this piece. The central image of a baby, wearing a suit, carrying a briefcase and demanding Sushi is clearly the main focus of the filmmakers. The plot, need for a villain and a challenge for the brothers to face and overcome seems secondary to this image and as a result seems forced and tacked on to fill the run time.

The sentimentality that I wanted was virtually non-existent and I did not laugh as much as I would have hoped to. A negative experience you might think… but no.

A quick glance to my right at the kids brought a whole new perspective. They were engrossed, laughing and riveted by the story that had all but escaped me. A quick chat with them after confirmed this as all three gave it high scores out of five and little Michael (aged 8) seconded it only to Lego Batman as his favourite film of the year. Anna (aged 11 and grown up enough to obsess over less child friendly movies such as the Harry Potter series) gave a glowing review and Katie (aged 8) left on a high and was more than happy to enthusiastically recall her favourite scenes to me.


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Verdict

This is clearly a movie that is only for a certain part of the audience and I am on the other side of that fence. Does that make it a bad movie? No. Will you enjoy it as an adult? Probably not. But as Jon Lithgow states in Cliffhanger, “you know what real love is? Sacrifice”. Take the kids and let them have a good time.

Review by Jim McMorrow
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