|Never trust a baby who can easily hold chopsticks|
"Look at him! He wears a suit!"Even though I have lost complete interest in Dreamworks Animation films, I know that they're still capable of making quality family entertainment. With the exception of How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014), I haven't seen a decent film from them in over five years. What is it that keeps this studio from making great animated films lately? It all just seems to be about the safe sequels and sentimental fish out of water stories. Look Dreamworks, your cartoons don't have to be as existential as those Pixar guys, but they do have to have some significance to remain...significant. Or shall we just wait for the inevitable Shrek reboot?
The Boss BabyEven though it goes in the route of predictable touchiness, The Boss Baby is good enough that it makes you believe that Dreamworks could be making a turnaround in good animated movies again. This whole film is a fantasy (obviously), in the eyes of its storytelling and in the eyes of its characters. It believes in the fantasy so much, that this film can have a suited-up baby show up in a taxi, pay the driver, do a funk dance up to the front door, ring the bell, and make you believe that there's no such thing as vaginal birth in this world.
At times the fantasy becomes difficult to differentiate between the film's reality and exaggerations. I often wondered during my viewing how seriously this film was taking itself. Despite its cliches of unwelcome attitudes between the two "brothers", there's a charming bond that grows with them, which ventures this into becoming a buddy movie. I also like how D.A. knows that this is a cartoon, and keeps the animation looking exactly as such, instead of trying to meticulously detail every molecule in appearance. It keeps the fantasy more realistic that way. There's also more than a few hints at the classic Looney Tunes cartoons, with many sight gags, facial expressions, and slapstick moments that evoke some of my childhood memories.
For all intents and purposes, this is an Alec Baldwin (The Cat in the Hat) and Miles Bakshi (Shrek Forever After) film, with a little Tobey Maguire (The Great Gatsby 2013) narration from time to time. Bakshi is the typical dreaming kid who turns everyday events into fantastical adventures. And though he is very good at playing a seven year old, even Bakshi takes a back seat to the ferocity of Sir Alec Baldwin (he's not British but the title feels right).
This guy eats up every scene and asks his costars to live off of the crumbs. They admirably do, yet it probably isn't them that you'll remember after you've walked out of the screening. His banter is more relative to adult senses of humor, and his physical theatrics caters towards the kids. Lisa Kudrow (Friends) and Jimmy Kimmel (Jimmy Kimmel Live!) are the basic parental figures with dialogue that's nothing worthy of their comedic talents. Steve Buscemi (Monster's Inc.) as the big bad villain is always spirited, yet I wonder if anyone other than me recalls all of his other animated works every time they hear his voice? Aside from Baldwin, Conrad Vernon (Shrek) grabs the rest of the film's highlights as an aggressive henchman. And I almost forgot about the Elvises.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of The Boss Baby
The Good- Tim's fantasies, the S.W.A.T. style backyard rumble, visiting Baby Corp., Eugene is a horrible babysitter, and you can never go wrong with a bunch of Elvises.
The Bad- A little too much cheese with the love songs, and all the times that they mentioned that Beatles song (Blackbird) and never actually played it.
The Ugly- Pixar isn't perfect these days either (The Good Dinosaur), but at least they've got the Disney Animation Studios to back them up (Moana). Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets) is a fellow subsidiary of D.A., yet you never hear them mentioned in the same breath.
Final ThoughtsThe Boss Baby is better than it should be, and not as good as it boasts to be as well. I found myself entertained for most of film, and Baldwin is once again a tour de force even in animated form. Take your kids to see this and then blissfully forget about most of it right afterwards. That's the sad part, I'm either too old to remember things, or I just packed an entire review based off of re-watching the trailers because this movie isn't very memorable. I miss my binky.
Rating- 6 out of 10
The Boss Baby (2017)PG | 1h 37min | Animation, Comedy, Family | 31 March 2017 (USA)
A suit-wearing briefcase-carrying baby pairs up with his seven-year old brother to stop the dastardly plot of the CEO of Puppy Co.
Director: Tom McGrath
Writers: Michael McCullers, Marla Frazee (based on the book by)
Stars: Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel