The Boss Baby
The Boss Baby is a 2017 American computer-animated comedy film, loosely based on the 2010 picture book of the same name written and illustrated by Marla Frazee. Produced by DreamWorks Animation, the film is directed by Tom McGrath and written by Michael McCullers. It stars the voices of Alec Baldwin, Miles Bakshi, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, and Tobey Maguire. The Boss Baby premiered at the Miami International Film Festival on March 12, 2017, and was released on March 31 of that year.
A sequel, The Boss Baby: Family Business, was released in theaters and on Peacock on July 2, 2021, while a follow-up web series, The Boss Baby: Back in Business, premiered on Netflix on April 6, 2018.
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 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.
- The premise of babies working in an office environment is ridiculous and tiresome.
- Failed attempts at having heart or charm.
- The story is generic where the property of their owner is jealous of the new one, who gets all of the attention from said owner, and the two properties eventually bond; there are also bland morals about love.
- Also, because of it, there is barely any sense that the characters are in danger, especially considering how the viewer knows how they would eventually end up.
- Many of the characters presented in the film can be boiled down to these simplistic tropes, with Ted and Janice both being the stereotypical "loving parents", and Tim being the typical "over-imaginative kid with all the attention he has been getting from his folks"; thus, many of the characters are rendered easily forgettable and mean-spirited at times.
- On the topic of tropes, the film uses the common trope of protagonists arguing over something and splitting up only before they get back together in the climax, which feels very forced.
- A lot of the attempts at humor, while it does have its moments, fall flat and is also awkward at times. There is also an overuse of gross-out and toilet humor.
- In one scene, there is also a close-up shot of Boss Baby's rear end.
- The film tries to imply that the events of the movie are all just in Tim's imagination, but it is undermined by several aspects, opening a can of worms:
- First and foremost, during the battle of the Templetons' yard, when Boss Baby was implied to be going to curse at Tim ("Let go, you little..."), it immediately cuts to a small scene with Ted and Janice, where you can clearly see Boss Baby in the background in the mini police car as it moves forward as Tim is holding onto it.
- Secondly, the sequel (The Boss Baby: Family Business) where, according to DreamWorks Animation, and we are quoting here, "When baby Tina reveals that she's—ta-da!—a top-secret agent for BabyCorp on a mission to uncover the dark secrets behind Tabitha's school and its mysterious founder, Dr. Armstrong, it will reunite the Templeton brothers in unexpected ways, leading them to re-evaluate the meaning of family and discover what truly matters."
- There is also its follow-up web series, The Boss Baby: Back in Business.
- At the end of the film, Tim's infant daughter, whilst wearing a suit, winks at his oldest, suggesting that she is another BabyCorp employee.
- Even if the film was supposedly in Tim's imagination, that just creates a new slew of problems, mainly from its tone, as it quickly becomes confusing as to whether what's happening is actually going on or entirely part of Tim's imagination.
- Cringe-worthy fake pathos.
- Not very faithful to the source material from the book it's based on; it feels more generic than the aforementioned book.
- The ending is stupid and completely out of the blue.
- Francis E. Francis is a pretty lame and generic villain.
- The imagination sequences are mostly pointless and feel out of place.
- There is one inappropriate shot where, at Puppy Co., Tim and Boss Baby sneak through what appears to be the butthole of a puppy-shaped bouncy house.
- Several inconsistencies and internal contradictions, including:
- The babies that aren't at Baby-Corp are still capable of talking without a formula, while the ones who do work there can read the ones that aren't can't, as seen in one scene where the Boss Baby shows the other babies that puppies are getting even more love than the babies.
- Tim tries to convince Francis Francis that his parents would never leave him and Boss Baby alone, even though... well, to quote Doug Walker in his review of the film, "...except for this moment of them leaving us alone!"
- Tim also gets nervous during the take-off of the plane heading to Las Vegas and points out to Boss Baby about how his parents always hold his hand during take-off, even though he seems to have no issues struggling against Boss Baby and his field team in the battle of the Templetons' yard.
- Dated references to popular culture in a modern children's animated movie, with Tim's alarm clock (Wizzie) makes The Lord of the Rings reference, The Beatles song "Blackbird" as heard and the third act containing references to Elvis Presley.
- Most scenes are laughable, such as the scene where a puppy sniffed and licked The Boss Baby's rear end while trying to sneak in.
- Ted and Janice are extremely unlikable as they do many dangerous things to the point where they even let Tim take care of Ted by himself. To make matters worse, they were even going to give Tim his own time with them, and they were just going to leave Ted in the puppy zone, all by himself with the dogs! Sure Ted could actually take care of himself for obvious reasons, but they don't know that.
- Some parts of the film can be rather outright mean-spirited at best, such as in the break-up scene at the airport when Tim says that he wishes Boss Baby was never born which isn't really emotional and comes off as cruel since he just insulted a baby right there and a fully-fledged anthropomorphic one at that.
- The whole Babies vs. Puppies war for love is pathetic and they're both treated as products, not living beings.
- Jimbo, the fat baby.
- There's a scene where young Tim drinks alcohol, a Long Island iced tea, even though he doesn't know it's alcohol.
- Bits with child abuse and neglect.
- The Teddy Bear projector doing an exorcist head spin while saying "Let's put on a show," is very disturbing.
- The film is very unfaithful to the source material of the book of the same name with several of these differences listed below
- The book shows that Boss Baby is an only child and had him be the protagonist of the book, while the film adds in an older brother and makes said brother the protagonist
- The book reveals that Boss Baby’s parents are aware of the fact that he acts like a workaholic and can talk and do complex things like manage meetings while the film has boss baby’s parents be completely oblivious to Boss Baby’s skills until near the end of the film.
- The "baby Jesus" joke.
- The credits at the end are decently animated.
- Hans Zimmer and Steve Mazzaro deliver a decent score.
The Boss Baby received mixed reviews from critics and audiences, who praised the animation, soundtrack, and voice acting (particularly Baldwin's), but criticized its plot, humor, and confusing tone. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 53% based on 179 reviews and an average rating of 5.50/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Boss Baby's talented cast, glimmers of wit, and flashes of visual inventiveness can't make up for a thin premise and a disappointing willingness to settle for doody jokes.". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 50 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale, while the film earned a score of 6.3 on IMDB.
Awards and nominations
Despite the mixed reviews, The Boss Baby was nominated for an Academy Award for Animated Feature Film but lost to Coco.
- The DreamWorks Animation opening logo variant of this movie used the same background from the 1997 DreamWorks Pictures logo.
- In the end, the baby girl with the blonde hair and suit was originally going to be Tim's baby, but it was actually Ted Templeton Jr's since it was actually Tabitha's baby cousin.