Film review: THE BOSS BABY, from ‘Built For Speed’

A film about a megalomaniacal orange-haired baby that’s voiced by Alec Baldwin… some would be forgiven for thinking animated feature The Boss Baby might turn out to be a sly dig at a certain POTUS but that is not the case although it does take a swipe at the sort of uber capitalist world which that POTUS embodies. Instead The Boss Baby is more concerned about the confusing world of childhood and satirises the resentment children feel when a new baby enters the home.

Here, seven-year-old Timothy Templeton (Tobey Maguire) has an ideal childhood fashioning wondrous fantasies from everyday life and enjoying his doting parents’ (Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmell) undivided attention. That suddenly ends when an alien presence invades the household …a new baby. No longer the centre of attention, Tim becomes jealous of this strange creature but also suspects there’s something not quite right about the tyke who, oddly, wears a business suit. Tim’s fears are realised when the baby (voice by Alec Baldwin) reveals its true mission which involves a vast corporate conspiracy.

As a wistful tale about the end of childhood The Boss Baby tries to emulate some of the great animated family films of recent years such as Toy Story and Inside Out. The Boss Baby, however, lacks the wit, lovable characters and genuine emotion that made those films so magical. The attempts at melancholic reflection in The Boss Baby feel more like forced sentimentality. The glistening animation style and the design of Tim’s home look, however, like they could have come straight from Toy Story.

Typical of modern animation films The Boss Baby is mostly composed of loud, hyperactive, eyeball-pummelling sight gags and babbled dialogue with a few contemporary catches phrase thrown in.  The film makes a couple of amusing observations about the cut-throat corporate world but tellingly, the film overall generated few laughs from the preview audience of youngsters.

The voice cast all do a reasonable job. Tobey Maguire gives Timothy a likeable, wide-eyed innocence while Alec Baldwin voices the baby exactly like Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock which is kind of amusing in itself but he has far fewer funny lines than in 30 Rock. Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmell make the parents, who are normally forgotten characters in these types of films, quite funny and lively. Steve Buschemi, despite having an almost unrecognisable voice, brings an enjoyably maniacal quality to the character of oddball Pet Store mogul and Tim’s parents’ boss Francis Francis.

Overseen by Hans Zimmer and Steve Mazzaro, the film’s music is surprisingly effective with some familiar tunes including the welcome inclusion of the theme from 70’s TV show SWAT. The film also features a surprisingly rousing classical score that recalls the work of underrated American composer Howard Hanson.

There’s enough manic energy in The Boss Baby to excite youngsters but apart from a few workplace gags many of their parents will probably find this film a chore.

Nick’s rating: **1/2.

Genre: Animated.

Classification: G.

Director(s): Tom McGrath.

Release date: 23rdMar 2017.

Running time: 97 mins.

Screening: General release.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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