“The Boss Baby,” produced by Dreamworks and directed by Tom McGrath of “Madagascar” and “Megamind,” starring Alec Baldwin, Tobey Maguire and Steve Buscemi, is not worth seeing.
Nominated for Best Animated Feature this year at the Academy Awards, “The Boss Baby” came out last year in March. It’s centered around an only child, Tim (voiced by Miles Backshi), who is mortified to discover that a new baby brother has arrived to upheave his entire life. He soon learns the well-dressed infant (voiced by Alec Baldwin) has the ability to talk, has a secretary and writes memos. The two are forced to put aside their differences in order to help Boss Baby (his only given name) stop a plot to take love away from babies.
“Boss Baby” is exhaustingly strange. The premise rests upon the macabre idea that there is a finite amount of love in the world, an amount that can be charted as a pie graph and measured by mysterious, unknown forces that are never completely explained. Babies are created in an assembly line, where they are sorted into two categories: either they are sent to live with families or are determined humorless enough to join upper-management.
Management babies then live out their days at Baby Corp., a giant company that oversees and manages how much love babies receive. Sometimes, these management babies are sent on secret missions into families to determine what is causing all the love to be taken away from the babies. These babies arrive in a suit and tie in a taxi, and use their pacifiers to project their consciousness back to Baby Corp. and drink magical formulas to retain their infantile youth.
All of this is quite bizarre. The movie suffers from its blind attempts to cram all of this world-building into a 90 minute runtime along with a main plot that involves an evil puppy-manufacturing corporation and its attempts to steal all the love in the world from babies.
The film is unfocused and spread thin, never quite choosing where to place its drive. At points, it centers on the wonders of imagination, even hinting at the possibility that the entire movie was imagined by the protagonist. At other times, it’s a sentimental lesson about brotherhood and learning to appreciate your family (even if your family is a hired corporate investigator). At its worst, it’s a bland, uninspired critique of corporate America and its emotionless, dull nature.
None of the characters in this film are likable. Tim is selfish and spoiled, Boss Baby fluctuates between cold-hearted and warm with little to no reasoning and the villain (played by Steve Buscemi) is bland and forgettable. None of these characters seem to grow until the end of the film, when predictability wins out and they make the choices every viewer saw coming from the beginning.
Appearing on the soundtrack is the one licensed song they paid for, “Blackbird” by the Beatles. Sung by every main character at one point or another, the first stanza of the song is repeated nearly ten times in the film. The song punctuates every “sentimental” family moment of the movie, and by the end, the audience is left wondering how much one movie can wear out a classic song.
The only aspect of the movie this reviewer enjoyed was the animation style, which is vibrant and beautiful. Perhaps the film is better enjoyed on mute, with something better played overtop it. “The Boss Baby” is unfocused, poorly directed and disappointingly written. Steer clear, and root for something else this award season.