Thursday, March 30, 2017

Review: "The Boss Baby"

Sometimes you just gotta take one for the team. That applies to sports, the business world and especially to parenting. Everyone who’s raised a wee one knows that the bulk of their childhood is spent doing the things they like rather than what you like.

Case in point: “The Boss Baby.” It’s an utterly unsurprising animated flick about a baby who wears a business suit, carries a briefcase and likes to order his family around. Alec Baldwin provides the voice, doing that gravelly/authoritarian thing straight from “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Cute little babies talking with men’s voices is one of the oldest gags around, harkening back to the first days they married cartoons to sound.

It’s “Look Who’s Talking” meets “Spy Kids” meets… every baby movie ever made.

But you know what? My kids adored it. Had been begging for weeks to see it. Screamed with laughter while watching it. Chattered about it endlessly afterword. Have already asked me when the sequel is coming out.

It’s from the animation studio of DreamWorks, the same folks behind the “Madagascar” and “Megamind” movies, and is directed by the same guy who made those, Tom McGrath. It’s based on the book by Marla Frazee, with a screenplay adaptation by Michael McCullers.

You know what’s coming: wiseacre shtick, lots of jokes about heinies and what comes out of them, cute critters, familial bonding, a few slightly scary bad guys, etc.

The metaphysics of the movie are… odd.

It supposes that all infant humans are the product of Baby Corp, which spits them out in a factory-like turnstile for delivery to their families via taxi cab. But every so often a baby comes out that’s decidedly un-babylike… as determined by failing to laugh at being tickled. These are designated as “boss” babies who are relegated to a lifetime in middle management running the company.

“The” Boss Baby is assigned to the Templeton family on a secret mission. It seems that there is only so much love in the world to go around, and lately puppies have been hogging up more than their share. Baby Corp suspects that Francis E. Francis (Steve Buscemi), the CEO of rival Puppy Corp, has something up his sleeve.

Ted and Janice Templeton (surprisingly bland Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow) are flunkies in the Puppy Corp marketing department, so Boss Baby is assigned to them. This sets off immediate conflict with 7-year-old Tim Templeton (Miles Christopher Bakshi), the hyper-imaginative scion of the clan. Strangely, mom and dad unquestioningly accept their newborn wearing a business suit, but only Tim thinks something is amiss and catches Boss Baby talking.

You can guess where things go, with the would-be siblings migrating from face-off to partnering up, infiltrating Puppy Corp, and deciding having a brother really isn’t so bad.

I was pretty well bored the entire time, though there’s a decent bit of physical comedy or two. But when spaghetti noodles come flying out of Boss Baby’s nose, my kids yukked so hard they knocked the popcorn over.

I regret that “The Boss Baby” isn’t better at appealing to a broader age spectrum. But if your kids are south of age 10, you need to punch that mom or dad clock and put in your time.

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