Watch Steve's supplemental video review at the bottom of the article
In recent years, it would appear that DreamWorks Animation has stopped trying to directly compete with Pixar, instead opting to take the middle-road instead of the higher road. While the latter can lead to heights that render a film a modern "classic," the middle-road is safer and prevents memorable failures from lurking in the minds of audiences, especially those that are most impressionable. The Boss Baby is the middle-road done mostly well, a one-note joke movie that remains focused on the imaginative qualities its literal premise doesn't always inspire on the surface.
The film concerns a seven-year-old boy named Tim Templeton (voiced by Miles Christopher Bakshi), an only child who lives with his father and mother, Ted (Jimmy Kimmel) and Janice (Lisa Kudrow). Tim's breezy, tight-knit life with his parents is disrupted one day when a taxi pulls up to their home and drops off an infant donning a three-piece suit with the voice of Alec Baldwin (all this despite Janice being visibly pregnant). He is "the Boss Baby," we come to learn, an attention-obsessed tyke who works in upper management for a company known as Baby Corp. The company has seen considerable downturn with younger couples turning to purchasing puppies from Puppy Co. instead of opting to have babies.
Being that Tim's parents work for Puppy Co., Boss Baby was sent to infiltrate his family and try to discover Puppy Co.'s secret to their recent surge of success. The Boss Baby has also been stealing Tim's parents away from Tim in the process, turning into a spoiled and demanding brat that the parents are nonetheless happy to serve. Despite their malice for one another, the Boss Baby and Tim vow to work together in hopes they can be rid of their counterparts just as quickly as they were introduced.
We often get a look inside Tim's imagination, and we know we are inhabiting such as the animation dissolves into geometric planes and becomes considerably darker contrast. Usually Tim imagines an innocuous romp in his backyard between him, Boss Baby, and Boss Baby's many toddler associates has the stakes of a Fast and the Furious chase, or sees teaming up with his new baby brother to defeat the CEO of Puppy Co. is like seizing control of a pirate-ship. This turns the literal conventions and predictabilities of this film's goofy and questionable title around to make for an event that absolutely qualifies as more than meets the eye.
With its variety of animation styles and emphasis on imagination, The Boss Baby actually reminded me a lot of the Nickelodeon program The Fairly Oddparents, and that is a bit estimable. The Fairly Oddparents was a defining program of my childhood; it was a show I recognized early on couldn't be done without the limitless boundaries of animation. Not only did it have a terrific concept, but it knew how to directly utilize its storyline to appeal and relate to children. The Boss Babyknows how to turn a conventional playdate into the rousing, exciting affair that kids always see it as, as much as it knows how to keep all its high-octane action colorful and visibly coherent to even the smallest minds. It mirrors the way the Nickelodeon classic handled its most riveting moments.
The Boss Baby does indeed succumb to its fair share of silliness, opting for some overly cutesy moments that rely on the bulging eyes and frothy, good-natured sentiments of its characters. It also lacks the inspiring secondary characters that have become as memorable in recent animated films - even DreamWorks' movies - as the primary characters, leaving a lot of the weight on the shoulders of Baldwin's baby especially given how bland Tim and his parents can be. However, I was more impressed by the film's ability to play off of the hyperactive minds of children without ever succumbing to their frequent level of immaturity and operating as if they stemmed directly from the source.
I suppose what I'm saying, to the surprise of even my sometimes absurdly optimistic self, is that The Boss Baby is kind of good, or at least better than its infantile concept suggests. It's crafty at its most action-packed and steers clear of a lot of saccharine clap-traps to which this material loans itself. Its wide-eyed desire to entertain is mostly never compromised, except when it forgoes the direction of its marketing campaign and doesn't maximize its potential forGlengarry Glen Ross references.Share: