Boss Baby Review
Am I a bad person for saying that "Boss Baby" may be fun for young children but boring for adults?
I know its a comment I have made in the past, usually in describing Dreamworks Animation films, and I feel bad for doing it sometimes. Am I being too hard on these family films? Or are we just being spoiled by Pixar. Heck, I am barely blown away by Pixar these days, but their quality is still very strong. I don't feel like Dreamworks has had a memorable work since "Shrek 2." I can't honestly say the third and fourth films in that franchise are up to par with the first and second. It seems Dreamworks has always been a red-headed stepchild in the shadow of Disney and Pixar. The difference I see is this: Dreamworks makes movies specifically for kids, while Disney and Pixar both tap into something for everyone. The animation doesn't matter, its just a form of art, a form of communication. Just because something is animated, doesn't mean it has to be centered towards one small demographic in the theater. Are kids movies really only supposed to be for kids, and the adults just get to sit in a comfy chair and kill time after a long week at the office? Disney and Pixar and even Warner Brothers have kicked that idea to the curb.
The studio still alienating part of its audience is Dreamworks. Because "Boss Baby" is a clear idea of something made only for children, while the adults in the auditorium are pulling out their hair. What's most striking is that Dreamworks is playing with some big metaphors here. Its sad that they never see the full potential in those metaphors. They are only focused on making things cute. Tim is a boy who wants to be an only child forever. Then a baby wearing as suit with Alec Baldwin's voice pops out of a taxi and Tim's parents decide the baby will be Tim's brother. Tim can't stand the attention his little brother gets now. It gets even worse when The Baby is a "Boss Baby" that works in an office with other super smart infants to preserve infant love.
Its a weird and odd storyline to follow as an adult, but I am sure children don't get too involved in the plot details. They are too busy laughing at Alec Baldwin's voice through that ridiculous baby body and being absorbed by the lush animation. Yes, Alec Baldwin scores some big laughs, yes the animation is richly detailed. But that's all gravy on the mashed potatoes. There is never a moment I feel connected to the characters or the storyline. There isn't a moment that feels right in the movie. Its all just pure fluff with no execution.
It's extra sad because there are some evident metaphors here that go nowhere. Older siblings feeling threatened by smaller siblings, feeling like you are getting replaced, younger siblings taking advantage of the attention. These are all real things children can feel in a family dynamic. All opportunities for "The Boss Baby" to reflect and discuss, but ultimately don't touch. "The Boss Baby" feels like one massive missed opportunity, and only feels involved in being cute and cuddly and nothing more.
Alec Baldwin is funny, the other voicework by Lisa Kudrow, Jimmy Kimmel, Steve Busecemi and Tobey McGuire is all good too. But its extra, and "Boss Baby" feels like a mixed bag of good extras. These extras never add up to a satisfying whole. There is some potential in the ideas of Dreamworks, but that potential is squandered time and time again. Yes the early "Shrek" years were good, and so was "Kung Fu Panda." Those movies displayed some real thinking outside the box. Nowadays, Dreamworks never wants to leave the box. That's really just sad all around.
FINAL GRADE: C-