Flick gives you the baby blues
Alec Baldwin voicing a suit-wearing baby in the latest big screen outing from the animation studio behind the likes of Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon – what’s not to love?
Unfortunately quite a bit as The Boss Baby rates as one of the weakest entries in DreamWorks’ 34 cinematic cartoons.
It all starts so promisingly as the briefcasewielding titular infant joins forces with his seven-year old brother Tim (voiced by Miles Christopher Bakshi) to stop a dastardly plot involving puppies and babies.
In less generic, chance-taking hands than director Tom McGrath, who helmed four other average-at-best flicks for DreamWorks – Madagascar and its sequels and Megamind – The Boss Baby could have made for memorably surreal entertainment.
It would appear, though, that Michael McCullers – who helped pen Austin Powers 2 and 3 and Baby Mama – lost quite a bit of his comedic powers when adapting Marla Frazee’s 2010 children’s book of the same name.
Sure, there are giggles; most of them sight gags and nods to Baldwin’s eye-catching turn in Glengarry Glen Ross. But there are only so many laughs than can be mined from seeing and hearing a baby act and dress like an adult.
That concept would work very nicely as a short, but really struggles to cope with the strain of filling out a 97-minutes running time.
Baldwin honed his Boss Baby skills on longrunning American TV sketch show Saturday Night Live, and you can’t help but feel that’s where – on book pages apart – the character should have stayed.
McGrath and his animation team try to go down the Lego Movie route of battering the screen with frenetic visuals packed with nods and winks that repeat viewings may pick up.
But their film is left flagging in comparison and even last year’s good-but-not-great Storks did a better job of this style of cartoon filmmaking – the creative talents of Nicholas Stoller putting his fingerprints all over that production.
In fairness, however, McGrath does show moments of genius, such as turning dinner into a jungle-themed escapade and one of the best garden-set sequences since Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
He’s also rounded up an impressive list of experienced campaigners to fill out the voice cast, including Steve Buscemi as villain Francis Francis, Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow as Boss Baby and Tim’s parents and Tobey Maguire, who narrates as an adult Tim.
What a pity, then, that McGrath and McCullers seem to think the best way to use their stars’ talents – and evoke some laughs – is to batter the audience with an array of poop and fart jokes; all good and well for the under-fives watching, but tiresome for everyone else.
A classic case of a film that could’ve be so much more, The Boss Baby needed better parenting skills to reach its full potential.
In charge Alec Baldwin voices the skilled titular infant