In our animated world where every cartoon character, board game and app gets their own movie, it’s nice to see Hollywood take a step back a bit and start from scratch. Okay, so The Boss Baby wasn’t completely built from the ground up. It was inspired by the children’s picture book of the same name by Marla Frazee, but the book only lays the ground work. Director Tom McGrath took it from there.
Despite what you might think, this movie is more than just silly hijinks that only little ones will appreciate. The Boss Baby is actually a lot more clever than it first appears. It’s like two movies pushed into one. The kids will like all the silly cartoony things that happen on the screen, but their parents will enjoy the “old school” look to the animation, the many different references to other movies and the film’s wit. In the screening I attended, there were parts in the story where the kids would laugh while parents sat silent and then vice versa.
The Boss Baby opens with a narration by and older Tim (Tobey Maguire) looking back on his childhood admitting that he had an over-active imagination when he was younger when his baby brother arrived. In his memory, he swears that his sibling arrived by taxi, wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. He of course is alarmed by this, but it doesn’t seem to bother Tim’s parents at all. Tim is sure that this baby is up to no good, and with a voice that comes from Alec Baldwin, who could blame him? Soon, the jig is up and the baby admits that he is no regular baby. He’s on a special mission and when it is over, he’ll leave and if Tim helps, he could be leaving even sooner. In a subplot, puppies just might take over the world if these two don’t come to the rescue.
Now, before you roll your eyes, you need to realize that part of this story is being told from a seven-year-old boy’s point of view. The audience gets to see that most of the antics are figments of Tim’s imagination and the story as a whole is a metaphor about the struggles older children face when new siblings come into the family. They fear that the new members will get all of mom and dad’s love and leave nothing left for them.
The Boss Baby features an excellent voice cast including Jimmy Kimmel as “Dad,” Lisa Kudrow as “Mom” and newcomer Miles Christopher Bakshi as Tim. (Miles’ grandfather used to work on Mighty Mouse cartoons by the way.) The style of the cartoon is reminiscent of older Warner Bros. cartoons which is also a lot of fun. Now, the film is a little overly long during the last quarter of its run time, but overall, this is an excellent film that is actually “pro-family” which is a nice change in today’s more sarcastic fare.
(Main Image: DreamWorks)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.