‘The Boss Baby’ Annoyingly Weak

Dir. Tom McGrath (20th Century Fox)—1/5 Star

“The Boss Baby” has an interesting and unique enough premise that one might walk into the theater expecting a smart animated movie. Potential parallels between the film’s titular baby, voiced by Alec Baldwin, and President Trump (also impersonated by Baldwin on Saturday Night Live) are immediately obvious and, especially in today’s political climate, incredibly clever. Unfortunately, although the film starts on a relatively promising note, it never becomes as smart as it wishes to be, and dumbs down into an unintentionally silly ride with a ridiculous plot and feeble attempts at humor that will only appeal to the most immature of kids.

The film opens with an introduction to the narrator of the film, Tim Templeton (Tobey Maguire), and the Boss Baby. Tim seemingly has a perfect life with his parents, but when the Boss Baby arrives at the Templetons’ home, briefcase in hand, that perfection is immediately disrupted as a contentious relationship is set up between Tim and his new baby brother. Instead of exploring this power struggle between the two brothers, the film quickly puts aside their differences in favor of an outrageous plot involving a rivalry between babies and puppies. It is here that the film starts tumbling downhill and becomes a turn-off-your-brain children’s movie.

The problem here is a script so lazily written that everything seems to be held together only by a thin thread. Characters are haunted not only by muddled motivations, but also by drastic, unjustified changes in emotion. For example, the film sets up the relationship between Tim and the Boss Baby as toxic, but when the Boss Baby reveals his true nature, Tim immediately forgets about his hatred and offers to help him. The structure of the film is similarly hectic, with masses of misplaced exposition arising at random times. It’s almost as if the writers did not know how and when to integrate the backstories of the characters into the film, so they just clumped together all the exposition into three montages and placed them in random spots. It’s also obvious that the writers didn’t put much thought into the movie’s humor, judging by the overabundance of butt shots and fart jokes.

Perhaps the most glaring issue is the film’s overall lack of attention to detail, both in writing and in directing. There are plot holes, narrative inconsistencies, and conveniently placed objects and set pieces left and right. So often the film introduces an element meant to create suspense, only to forget about it one minute later. In a bizarre and miserable attempt to impress the audience, the film attributes the inconsistencies to an unreliable narrator in Tim. However, whereas an unreliable narrator is generally meant to make the viewer question the reality of the events unfolding on screen, the one in this movie serves no purpose but covering up plot holes. What could have been a refreshingly smart element in an animated movie is instead used to conceal the lack of effort by everyone working on this film.

“The Boss Baby” is so incoherent that it offers too little for kids and nothing for adults. The film treats its audience with utter disrespect, assuming that it will laugh at and believe any ridiculous things it tosses out. Although Baldwin is suitably ridiculous and annoying as the voice of the Boss Baby and the film’s animation is well done, they are not enough to save the movie from being a mess. “The Boss Baby” isn’t smart, interesting, or funny, and if it’s not completely forgettable, it is purely due to its outrageous sluggishness.


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