I don’t “get” a lot of things, but I know how to B-S my way into sounding like I do. The one thing I could never pretend to get is how babies are so perfect and adorable.

    That’s a crotchety young man thought, and it will likely change once I become more liberal in my thirties. But right now I find them to be messy poop machines that keep screaming no matter how you try to satisfy them. I don’t hate them, I just don’t know how to handle something that needs a diaper.

    In other words, I’m the perfect (and by perfect, I mean absolutely worst person on this planet) to review Dreamworks’ Animation’s The Boss Baby.

    Let’s be straight-up here; this movie starts off as incomprehensible as an infant before he or she learns to talk. Tim (newcomer Miles Bakshi) is a single child used to getting all the attention.  His parents sing to him and read him three straight bedtime stories a night. Any single child (like me) can relate to enjoying having all of your parents attention.

    They also feel the frustration when it feels like their parents care more about something else. Meet the titular Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin), who is inexplicably dressed in a suit and arrives via taxi.

    Why does this happen? What is the purpose of all of this? Those questions are not answered, then brushed away in favor of something different all together. You see, the Boss Baby comes from a baby factory where it’s decided whether said infants go down to Earth with families, or stay upstairs to run a baby corporation. 

    By having Tim suck on a magic pacifier, he learns the Boss Baby drinks a special formula to stay young, and finding out how puppies are trying to take over families is his mission. The baby needs to find out what new dog PuppyCo. (where Tim’s parents work) is planning on unveiling. 

    That’s an okay premise, but it’s complicated by a (very well-done) montage in the beginning, that establishes that Tim is a creative kid that likes to make up fantasies in his own mind. Nothing deranged, just the usual I’m-a-pirate/motorcycle-driver variety. The film then implies that the Boss Baby’s arrival comes from a scenario in Tim’s head.

    Is that what screenwriter Michael McCullers (Austin Powers in Goldmember, Baby Mama)  had in mind? Probably not, but that’s how it comes off. Essentially, you spend the first thirty minutes of The Boss Baby questioning if anything you’re seeing on-screen is legit. I suppose an infant can relate.

    There’s also just a plain logical problem in the beginning too. Tim’s mom is portrayed as being pregnant (presumably with the Boss Baby) with his brother, yet the infant first arrives out of a taxi. Did we forget about the child that was inside of her stomach? Or is this just a product of Tim’s imagination? At the risk of sounding sketchy, I’ll just say this is getting strange.

    But there’s a lot to like here. The animation is beautiful, and combined with the music, creates a lush, old-timey vibe akin to 1950s Disney. The voice cast (also featuring Lisa Kudrow, Jimmy Kimmel, Steve Buscemi and Tobey Maguire) all imbue their characters with enough warmth to like them.

    In fact, I would say that the CGI is straight-up incredible, and one of the few times I’ve watched a DreamWorks film and felt that. They weave traditional 3D animation with hand-drawn backgrounds and sections that are a trippy representation of a kid’s brain.  Previous efforts of theirs either looked slightly creepy (Shrek, Shark Tale), or lazy (Madagascar), but they really make an effort here to create a visually appealing movie. It works.

    After a rough first half hour, the movie settles in with the babies-versus-puppies conflict. Tim working with the Boss Baby forces the two to bond together, and their relationship develops nicely. Even with his voice, Baldwin knows how to play scumbags you learn to like Credit him and the previously-blamed McCullers for drawing me back into something that was flailing. 

    The humor is usually amusing and mostly stupid, and a penis is even blurred out in a scene. There’s an odd dichotomy where DreamWorks is clearly making a movie for children (babies! puppies! fantastic worlds!) while referencing a lot of adult material. Putting a child and an infant in Las Vegas is one part, while having Baldwin recite similar lines to the ones he said in Glengarry Glen Ross (which, by the way, is not a film intended for children) is the strange joke that kids won’t get. It’s like how Shark Tale made a bunch of Godfather references; it’s clever, but is odd to see in a children’s film.

    I was never driven to tears like a good Pixar movie can do (like Toy Story 3), but there’s enough of a bond established to make you care about the brothers when they’re together. Tim is such a likable hero, and his boundless enthusiasm is something anyone young or old can relate to. 

   My girlfriend (who adores children) is taking her six-year-old niece to see this. I’m sure they’ll both love it, but for different reasons.  I merely enjoyed it for its goofiness once I got over trying to understand it.

    So just like a baby, huh?

Post-Script: If Alyssa is reading this; please don’t think I hate your niece or nephew. Camrynn and Declan are adorable. I just get carried away when describing myself sometimes.

 

Published by Jagger Czajka