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The Boss Baby - Review

The Boss Baby

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

FOR frustrated parents and older siblings everywhere, the idea behind The Boss Baby should be one that resonates fully, while being ripe for comic mining.

But while Tom McGrath’s animated adventure certainly has its moments, there’s something missing from the concept that prevents it from hitting the type of Pixar-inspired highs that the film is so clearly aiming for.

Perhaps it’s that by trying to be too high-concept and different, The Boss Baby winds up feeling as though it’s just plain weird, no matter how enjoyable certain elements are.

The story focuses on over-imaginative seven-year-old Tim (voiced by Miles Christopher Bakshi), who finds his perfectly balanced life shattered when his parents (Lisa Kudrow, Jimmy Kimmel) bring home a baby brother.

In Tim’s head, the new addition, known as Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin), is a sharp suited, briefcase-wielding CEO of a company named Baby Corp, who steals away his parents’ affections. But while Tim and Boss Baby initially find themselves at odds with each other, Tim quickly comes to realise that Boss Baby has his own mission – to combat an alarming rise in puppy love that might displace babies in the grand scheme of things – and so the two unite to realise both of their goals.

Loosely inspired by Marla Frazee’s 2010 children’s book of the same name, The Boss Baby merely uses the basic concept of babies taking over the family business as a jumping off point, before then broadening its scope to include “Inside Out”: style insights into a child’s mind, pot-shots at the corporate-driven world and a blurring of the line between what’s real and what’s imagined.

The ensuing film subsequently feels tonally uneven and unnecessarily complex, which in turn prevents the story from making a bigger emotional connection. Older audiences, in particular, may spend a lot of their time trying to pre-anticipate things, before arriving at the realisation that the film operates from one of the weirdest children’s concepts for a long time.

This, in turn, then begs the most obvious question: why not keep it as simple as the book.

That being said, the film is so fast-moving and visually imaginative that it whisks you along for long periods of the time, while thriving on a typically charismatic vocal performance from Baldwin. His way with delivering an acerbic put-down has long been a source of comedy gold (from Friends to 30 Rock), and here he’s obviously having a blast.

Some of the set pieces, too, are inspired… whether involving the opening sequence at Baby Corps or a Toy Story-esque chase around the garden that pits Tim against Boss Baby and his similarly nappy-wearing ‘minions’. Younger viewers will certainly be dazzled without fretting too much over what it all really means.

Hence, as flawed as The Boss Baby undoubtedly is, it remains fleet-footed enough to just about get away with it.

Certificate: U
Running time: 97mins
UK Release Date: April 1, 2017