The Boss Baby (2017)
Dir: Tom McGrath
I saw this when it came out but didn’t review it as there was nothing special to say about it. It’s a spectacularly unimpressive film but Oscars do change (almost) everything.
Young boy Tim’s world falls apart when his parents get another baby (voiced by Alec Baldwin), not a helpless infant but a suited and booteed honcho sent from baby management to stop babies from losing first place in the hearts of the world.
My first look at the film was seeing the trailer for ‘Baby Boss’ in France (now re-read that title complete with a French accent). I didn’t really follow everything said in the trailer as my French is a little rusty but it looked ok, nothing special but perfectly decent. Then when it came out here I went with my friend and her two children to see it. The kids really enjoyed it, we didn’t.
I decided there and then not to bother reviewing the film, the ‘Thumper’s Dad’ principle was partly at play, if I can’t say anything nice why waste my time just reviewing something negatively? Now, with its inclusion in the nominees for the Animated feature Oscar, with my annual Oscar challenge it ‘needs’ reviewing and there are certainly a few things that can be said about it, even if I can’t say a lot for it.
If it was an animated short film I would think it would be a frontrunner in that category, there’s a lot of good ideas in here and our introduction to the baby scene is excellent, that was the point of the film where I was optimistic as it looked like there might be a lot of potential. Beyond that, it rapidly runs out of originality so a 10-minute runtime would have served it far better.
The key to truly understanding the film is that it has a self-admitted unreliable narrator, big brother Tim who states he ‘relied on imagination’. There’s one moment in particular that we get a brief glimpse of from the parent’s perspective so can understand what’s really going on, though that would possibly not be grasped by the majority of children. I don’t think adults will notice it either, more because they’ll be passively watching it rather than giving the film much attention.
This may do okay on streaming services, it’s better than a lot of the really small-budget animated films, but still, I don’t think it’s a film people will remember with any fondness over time.
‘Boss Baby’ is nominated for ‘Best Animated Feature’ at the Oscars this year. It won’t win, not a chance, that award is going to Disney Pixar’s ‘Coco’. It’s a two-a-penny animation, the kind that will work fine for kids but it’s not something that has much lasting appeal or wonderful levels of subtext that will reward repeat viewings.