Any film where Alec Baldwin is providing the voice for a newborn pretty much has my attention instantly. This was definitely the case with Dreamworks’ The Boss Baby. As soon as I saw the first trailer, I knew I had to go and see this. I mean, what’s not to love? Fully grown Alec Baldwin is the voice of a BABY! And he wears a suit! Of course, that’s going to be hilarious! And yet, I found myself seriously struggling to find a willing cinema companion. Not everyone shared my enthusiasm.
The Boss Baby centres around this simple premise: Not all babies are born from humans. Some are sent from a big place in the sky called Baby Corps to make sure that babies – not puppies – are still the cutest and most lovable things on earth. Alec Baldwin lends his voice to one such ‘secret agent’ baby. Which is great if, like me, the thought of an infant Jack Donaghy cracks you up.
He arrives – via cab – in to the Templeton home, where Tim had been blissfully living life as an only child for seven years. Despite his parents enthusiasm for the newest arrival, Tim (voiced beautifully by Miles Bakshi) struggles to adjust to life as a big brother.
And here is where The Boss Baby hits home. Any child going to see this film who has felt like they are not the centre of attention any more (I, myself, am the oldest of four) will be able to identify with Tim’s sense of loss. Naturally, the demanding nature of babies mean your parents have less time for you. You feel left out and resentment creeps in. You have to learn to share your parents and your toys.
So, in order to return to ‘normal’, Tim volunteers to team up with his younger sibling in order to foil a plot by Puppy Corp which would see babies fall to second place in the lovability stakes. It’s full of plenty of madcap action, which is funny when it’s seen from the kids point of view versus the parents. As you’ll have seen in the trailer, what seems like a high speed, action-packed chase across the garden is actually a lot more timid and gradual.
Tim and the baby are like a childhood version of The Odd Couple: Tim is wildly imaginative and sensitive whilst the baby is a wise-cracking businessman. There is also the neat mix between imagination and reality. Whenever Tim is playing with his toys or out in the garden, the film switches to almost neon colours and a slightly different style of animation. It’s a neat way of looking at things and will no doubt appeal to kids who like that kind of creative play.
The Boss Baby is a real mix of emotions – I found myself laughing out loud at points and, I’ll be honest, struggling not to bubble over at others. It actually tackles the ups and downs of adjusting to family life with a newborn as well as providing a bit of daft fun. It’s a very interesting take on sibling rivalry.
There are a couple of major plot holes – one being that Tim’s mom is actually pregnant and doesn’t seem phased by the fact that she doesn’t give birth and yet there’s a new baby in the house – but it doesn’t really spoil your enjoyment.
Some of the deeper points as to how we divide our attention will probably go over kids’ heads but, as an adult watching it, I didn’t feel bored or like it was ‘too silly’ – even though there is the usual litany of farts, vomit and dribbling. Okay, there really is only one joke (Alec Baldwin is a BABY, did I mention that?) but there are enough thrills and spills to keep you engaged.
It might not be one of Dreamworks’ finest, but The Boss Baby is certainly charming and funny, without relying too heavily on saccharine family moments.