FILM REVIEW – THE BOSS BABY. With the voices of Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Miles Bakshi. Written by Michael McCullers. Directed by Tom McGrath. Rated PG for some mild rude humor. 97 minutes.
Like last year’s sub-par “Storks,” THE BOSS BABY takes us to the imaginary place where babies come from for an adventure that is intended to amuse those young enough not to know any better. Fortunately, there’s a bit more wit here, so that parents who may have to endure it may find themselves being actually amused.
The movie is narrated by the adult Tim (voice of Tobey Maguire) who recounts what happened when, at age 7, he (voiced by Miles Bakshi) got a very peculiar baby brother. The Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin), shows up in a suit and tie and takes over the house, so that Tim is no longer the center of attention. However, this isn’t simply about sibling rivalry. The Boss Baby is on a mission.
Wherever babies come from in this universe, it is run like a huge corporation. Boss Baby is up for a promotion if he can uncover and foil a plot by a rival concern that might do away with babies forever. The first part of the film is Boss Baby and his infant allies in the neighborhood making life difficult for Tim. Eventually, the truth comes out, and the two join forces against the seemingly benevolent Francis Francis (Steve Buscemi), who runs the pet supply company that employs Tim’s Mom (Lisa Kudrow) and Dad (Jimmy Kimmel).
It’s all very silly with the occassional bodily function joke thrown in, since nothing suggests cutting edge humor to a four-year-old like a poop joke. However, there is some genuine cleverness in the big reveal of Francis Francis’s plot, as well as some character development as Tim and Boss Baby have to figure out a way to work together.
Based on a book by Marla Frazee, it’s a movie that doesn’t break any new ground in animation or storytelling, but fortunately, isn’t a step backwards either. The animation in on par with the more cartoonish computer animated offerings these days, and children will enjoy the involved bit about the sorting operation which prepares the newborns for their new lives. There’s also some amusing gags on how much babies get away with on the basis of their being cute.
However, where animated films like “Inside Out,” “Zootopia,” “Kubo and the Two Strings,” and “The Batman LEGO Movie” have become destinations not only for kids but for adults as well, “The Boss Baby” falls short. It should engage the youngsters but will leave more sophisticated viewers–say, those older than eight or nine–wanting something with more substance, or at least more jokes. Adults hoping that Baldwin will turn into the other boss baby he’s been playing on “Saturday Night Live” will find none of that here. This is a kid’s cartoon, pure and simple, and they’re welcome to it.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His new novel, Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel, will be released this month. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.