I think we all gave a collective ‘what on earth?’ when we first heard about Boss Baby. There’s been some tenuous films in the past but really, this looked like it would suck the proverbial pacifier. So, how was it?
The Boss Baby tells the story of briefcase carrying, employee of Baby Corp, Boss Baby, voiced by Alec Baldwin (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Still Alice), who’s sent to stop a dastardly plot by Francis Francis, voiced by Steve Buscemi (Rampart, Fargo), the CEO of Puppy Corp. In order to stop him he must team up with his seven-year-old brother Tim, voiced by Miles Christopher Bakshi (Scared Shrekless, Shrek Forever After) and Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man, Seabiscuit) as an older Tim.
Despite initial concerns I’m pleased to say that The Boss Baby is actually a very nice, funny, well written film. I know, surprising, right? Many people are pinning this on Baldwin and, whilst his performance is good, it’s both the writers and casting director that deserve the credit here. Both Baldwin and Buscemi fit their characters perfectly.
Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow (Easy A, Analyze This) work well as the mum and dad and Bakshi is great as the kid. Writer Michael McCullers (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Thunderbirds) has crafted an intriguing world here which has given him a plethora of jokes to call upon, most of which feel distinctly adult in their nature but I can imagine kids laughing throughout too.
There are some quite memorable scenes such as the garden ‘car chase’ and the Matrix-esq ‘pacifier’ scenes. Both of which show the flashes of excellence evident in the film.
Jokes aside the story is, as always with these things, designed to pull at your heart strings and does so by taking a story that’s been broached many times before, one of child one feeling unloved due to arrival of child two, and crafting it in a way that’s believable and fun to be part of.
Director Tom McGrath (Megamind, Madagascar) does a good job of keeping things moving and upbeat, as well as some fun juxtapositions between baby-time and adult-time. He also keeps things bright and colourful, with only a few dark moments, which are usually brought to a bright, happy ending.
There are a few sections I was less keen on. Occasionally Tim would venture into his imagination and we’d go along for the ride. Everything turns more cartoony, usually darker, more book-like. The first few times this is good and nice and we go along with it. However, I’m not keen on the continued use of it, or the use to explain away certain parts of story, one in particular towards the end. I felt a bit cheated, a bit like a really good bit had been edited out.
The Boss Baby is a surprisingly funny, well-thought out film that perhaps suffers from some initial bad editing for the trailer and a not-great title. Good, family fun that kids and adults alike should enjoy.