The Boss Baby is one of the first Dreamworks co-productions released since Comcast bought them. Oddly, two of the big releases this week are Dreamworks co-productions; Baby is co-produced with Fox and Ghost in the Shell is co-produced with Paramount. I can’t speak for Ghost in the Shell because I haven’t seen it, but The Boss Baby is a fairly typical Dreamworks b-level animated film: a pretty creative premise with some great voice talent that gets sullied with its reliance on potty humor.
Here is the plot summary via IMDb:
A new baby’s arrival impacts a family, told from the point of view of a delightfully unreliable narrator — a wildly imaginative 7-year-old named Tim. The most unusual Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin) arrives at Tim’s home in a taxi, wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. The instant sibling rivalry must soon be put aside when Tim discovers that Boss Baby is actually a spy on a secret mission, and only he can help thwart a dastardly plot that involves an epic battle between puppies and babies.
It’s a legitimately moving story that is much more creative than the trailers portend, despite the aforementioned potty humor. There are genuinely creative and funny moments, despite much of the film feeling like a Pixar knock-off (although I do like it more than The Good Dinosaur or Brave). The story was more unpredictable than I expected.
The voice acting is really fantastic. It’s narrated by Toby Maguire, who is telling his story of getting a new sibling to his daughter. Steve Buscemi adds his voice talents as well and he is predictably delightful. And of course Alec Baldwin does exactly what he’s expected to do.
THE NOT SO GOOD
Like I said in the intro, it relies heavily on potty humor, even more so than any other Dreamworks film I’ve ever seen. The opening credits scene is somewhat clever, but focuses much of its laughs on different views of different babies’ bottoms. There are also fart and throw-up gags. Most of these jokes fell flat and felt cheap to me, but the audience I was watching it with thought it was pretty funny. My daughter laughed at some of it and not at others.
The main theme of the film is how we handle the addition of a new sibling. I couldn’t relate to the story because although I have 3 children of my own and helped two children go through that process, I am the youngest in my family and so never had to go through it. My kids didn’t have a hard transition, so again, I didn’t relate. That being said, there are lots of films that have themes that I can’t relate to that work for me more than this movie did.
Overall the Boss Baby is very silly with some fun, moving, and creative components. It soils itself too often with cheap gags. If you like the trailer (you can watch it below) then you will probably like the movie. For me, it was only slightly better than the trailer and a wasted opportunity.