God, I’d love to see how this pitch went. “We are going to make a film where Alec Baldwin is a baby!” I think that deserves a big budget from DreamWorks, don’t you? I would tell you the story to ‘Boss Baby’, but it doesn’t really go beyond Alec Baldwin being a baby. It wasn’t one I was looking forward to because, as I’m sure you’ve all seen, the advertisements for this film were horrible. This looked like garbage. It didn’t look funny, or smart, or have any reason to exist, all it did have was Alec Baldwin as a baby. But, the same could have been said about last year’s Storks and that was hilarious and smart so I risked it once again.
Okay, so what story there is involves a kid with an overactive imagination and his shock when his family extends with a new baby brother. The baby immediately takes over the house; as the adult version of the boy narrates in the film, he calls for meeting after meeting, he blows a gasket when his demands/requirements aren’t met, he practically controls the parents and he seems to be getting all of the love, giving the boy the feeling of being replaced with someone newer (an out-with-the-old scenario). But soon, the kid discovers that the baby can talk, and is indeed a boss of babies. He is on a covert mission to put a stop to a new type of puppy taking over the market. Yes, babies and puppies are at war for the love of people and a new breed of puppy from, I don’t know puppy headquarters, threatens to take all of love away from babies for good. The boy and baby must help each other and what follows is…just weird.
This plot is so needlessly complicated that I really did have a hard time remembering it, and an even harder time describing it. Alongside this, the story has a very strange structure, with numerous moments feeling like we have started another film. I had to mention that the kid had an overactive imagination because that is a surprisingly key part to the story. You see, the settings will change (sometimes even the animation too) to symbolise that we are in his imagination. This works in moments where we get an insight into the kid’s feelings (like him being in jail when he’s grounded), or in just delivering some fast-paced action or laughs. But, this is undone by the fact that, in what can only be assumed as the real world, there are some outlandish things happening. And I don’t just mean the talking baby; there is action, story and even fantasy elements that happen when the kid isn’t daydreaming. It becomes very confusing very quickly. Even the boss baby’s existence doesn’t make much sense; we get an entire baby world and corporation which basically gives a reason for how babies are born that kids will understand. But we also see the mother pregnant, how does that work?
The final third in particular feels very odd and clustered. There are some bizarre plot points brought in here, including a very odd villain voiced by Steve Buscemi, which are admittedly imaginative, but they don’t connect with what was given beforehand. And when they do, it feels a little forced. This could all have been fixed by the ending, which did annoy me. You see, we actually get a very good reason why all of this is happening at the end, and it’s smart and really heart-warming and, just works. And then it’s ruined in the last three seconds and nothing makes sense again. It’s a good example of sacrificing a story for a joke. On top of that the characters aren’t very good. They’re not bad, or at least the main characters aren’t, but they’re nothing new. We have seen these characters before and done better. The kid was basically the kid from Storks, but with less intelligent writing, and the baby doesn’t really get past that it’s just Alec Baldwin.
But, is Boss Baby funny? And to that I say yes. Sometimes it was because of how weird things were, but there are actually a lot of genuine laughs to be had here. I’ve gone on about the Alec Baldwin voice, but I really like Alec Baldwin. I hear the bad reputation he has as a person to work with, and I don’t doubt it’s true, but watching him as a professional actor (particularly for comedy) I think he’s actually really good. It’s the same reason I like Michael Caine, Baldwin plays himself in most roles (and especially this one, they don’t even hide it), but what a character he is. The acting is actually really good across the board on this one, everyone delivers their lines well and time their jokes perfectly. And the visual humour isn’t bad at all. It’s good, funny slapstick. This, of course, being helped by DreamWorks’ usual great animation. This is a beautiful film to look at.
And there was actually one theme to the story that I really liked. I think it was really smart parodying a baby as the house’s new boss, which did lead to a lot of laughs down the line, but it’s what comes with it that I really appreciated. The feeling of being the older sibling to a new-born. Particularly when the older sibling gets past an age when the baby is born. It makes the kid, and the story as a whole actually pretty relatable. It’s nice to see, as not many films use this or don’t use it well. It’s a nice, heart-warming anchor for the rest of the film to work around, which to its credit it rarely strays too far from this theme.
It’s hard to say whether or not I recommend ‘Boss Baby’. If you want a nice, easy, fun time then I’d say check it out. But if you want something more, then I think the cluster bomb of a plot will get you down. If you can say to yourself “Alec Baldwin is the boss baby” and think that might be funny, then you’ll enjoy it. If not, there’s more on the horizon.
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