The Boss Baby

When I first heard that DreamWorks was producing an animated film called The Boss Baby, with Alec Baldwin as the titular character, I expected something resembling a recent recurring Saturday Night Live sketch, where there’s a corporate big-shot who also acts like a baby, to the consternation of those in his employ. In this case, I figured he’d be an actual baby who spoke with Alec Baldwin’s voice, but who was otherwise similar to that SNL sketch – a big-shot who managed to be successful in spite (?) of the fact that he’s a baby. Groan-worthy and a rip-off? Sure. But there could be worse.

And somehow, I was off. The actual film is much worse.

The Boss Baby follows Tim (Miles Christopher Bakshi), a wildly imaginative seven-year-old boy living a great life with his parents (Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmel). That is, until one day when his new brother, the Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin), arrives via taxi. Tim begins to wonder if his parents no longer love him, since their attention is increasingly focused on the baby’s needs.

Tim eventually discovers, though, that his new brother is actually a business executive from BabyCorp, who’s been sent to accomplish a mission involving rival corporation PuppyCorp, which has developed a new puppy that will make humans stop wanting to have babies altogether. To stop PuppyCorp, and to get the Boss Baby out of his home, Tim has to put aside his differences with his baby brother.

To give the film credit, there’s a kernel of a good idea here. The film wants to be, in part, about Tim learning that not everything’s about him, and how he fights against the idea. When that’s the focus of the film, it’s actually rather solid. It’s an interesting idea, and actually the point of the book this film is based on to boot.

Unfortunately, this happens fairly early on in the film, and the plot becomes both more complex and underwhelming as it becomes a “save the world” narrative. It’s too much, and the film’s attempts to pack in so many jokes begins to heavily backfire. If they’d kept the premise simpler, this actually could have worked as a film. It’s certainly visually appealing, and it’s got a solid cast assembled. But, much like a crying baby at 2 a.m., The Boss Baby ultimately makes you want to pull a pillow over your head to drown out the chaos around you.

The Boss Baby • Rating: PG (for some mild rude humor) • Runtime: 97 minutes • Genre: Family • Cast: Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Miles Christopher Bakshi • Director: Tom McGrath • Writer: Michael McCullers • Distributor: DreamWorks/20th Century Fox

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