So I watched The Boss Baby…
I remember being extremely nervous the day I went to watch this film. I wasn’t worried about the film (animated films are generally rather excellent and Dreamworks has a stellar record); I was nervous because watching this movie would be my first date with my crush. Luckily The Boss Baby was an entertaining and hilarious backdrop to a first date wrought with anxiety and first date jitters.
Okay, basic plot: Tim Templeton (Miles Bakshi) is a seven-year-old with a furiously overactive imagination. Every day is an adventure for Tim and along for every single death-defying trip to The Amazon or expedition across the seas are his two loving parents – Ted and Janice (Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow). Tim loves the amount of attention he gets from being an only child but Tim’s perfect world is soon shattered when his parents announce that they’re having another baby and Tim is about to have a baby brother. Tim doesn’t take the prospect of having to share his parents’ love well and is even more shocked by the ‘baby’ his parents bring home. Not only can this baby (Alec Baldwin) talk and think like an adult but it’s come to Tim’s home to show him who’s The Boss!
This film reminded me a lot of 2015’s Inside Out. While Boss Baby lacks the overall quality that anything Disney and Pixar put their names on, it does do well to take a major life event that most people go through and turn it into an adventure with humour and high stakes. The film is told from the viewpoint of Tim, who being a child with a wild imagination allows the story to often be ridiculous and out of control while still seeming logical and well-planned. There’s several examples of this throughout the film but not wanting to get into spoiler territory, I’ll discuss a scene that showcased this in the trailer. Tim is having this ‘car chase’ with The Boss Baby – using toys of course. To Tim and Boss Baby, it’s occurring with the same intensity and speed as an actual car chase but to the outside spectator (his parents in this case), the chase is happening at the speed you’d expect from a toddler chasing his little brother on his bike. It’s a brilliant storytelling technique because it frees the film up to be zany and larger-than-life while also allowing it to be logical and grounded.
One of the reasons I say that animations film are generally rather excellent is because of the greater length of time they spend in gestation than other movies. I was watching an interview with Tom Hanks and he commented about how it took close to five years to make a Toy Story film and that he had already begun recording scenes for Toy Story 4 which is only scheduled for release in 2019. The Boss Baby only spent about three years in the womb but you get the idea. The longer time allows for sharpening of storytelling and more focused stories with real heart. Tom McGrath and Michael McCullers who served as director and screenwriter for this film, respectively do fantastic work. They craft a story that is literally and figuratively seen through the eyes of a child. There’s a playfulness and eagerness in the film that I loved. Another great thing about animated movies is that they’re so rarely made only for children. Trust me, there’s plenty of jokes in here for adults sitting through this for their children. A particular one about Long Island Ice Teas had me in stitches.
I really enjoyed the voice cast in this film. Alec Baldwin is perfectly cast! I remember my brother and I were discussing It’s Complicated and he remarked that Baldwin was a wonderful casting choice in that film because he has that ‘naughty school boy’ swagger. That same swagger works beautifully for Baldwin in this role. He’s cheeky, arrogant but has heart and makes you fall in love with the character. Miles Bakshi also puts in an entertaining turn as Tim and he’s the real emotional linchpin upon which this film’s success rests. I was also pleasantly surprised by Jimmy Kimmel’s efforts as Ted – Tim and Boss Baby’s father. Kimmel is obviously a very funny person but his character isn’t. Kimmel still though manages to draw laughs and has a very soothing quality to his voice that perfectly suited the father in this.
The only real criticism I have to level against The Boss Baby was its predictability at times. We’ve seen this base storyline of two people who don’t like each other becoming as close as brothers several times. You know how the story’s gonna go and the film – while visually innovative because of the filter of Tim’s imagination – doesn’t do much to stray from the tried-and-tested path. The film has two endings of sorts – the second of which is heartwarming and fun; the problem is the first feels far too abrupt. I mentioned earlier that this film reminded me of Inside Out but it also reminded me of Wreck-It-Ralph which while a compliment, made it even more predictable. Furthermore, where do we draw the line between a film reminding you and alluding to another film, and a film blatantly plagiarising. The Boss Baby walks that line far too often but overall manages to stay on the right side of it.
Overall, The Boss Baby is a fun film! It’s full of laughs, is truly innovative at times and has a fantastic voice cast. It’s lack of originality in terms of general plot is easily forgiven and is a film that both adults and kids will enjoy. Go see it 7/10
P.S. The date went well so thanks Dreamworks 🙂