Flick gives you the baby blues

Rutherglen Reformer - - Reviews -

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

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