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, is scheduled to be released on September 17, 2021, while a follow-up web series, TTSW, 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.
- Generic story 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.
- The concept of people much younger than adults organizing and acting like adults is also unoriginal, as it has already been used in cartoons such as BTSW and BTSW.
- On the topic of the film being unoriginal, 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 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.
- 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, falls flat and is also awkward at times. There is also an overuse of gross-out and toilet humor.
- Bland art design.
- 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, there is an upcoming sequel 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, TTSW.
- 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 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 is based on; it feels more generic than the aforementioned book.
- The ending is silly 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 the third act containing references to Elvis Presley.
- The voice actors all give decent-to-good performances.
- Some few good jokes.
- While Francis E. Francis is a pretty generic villain, he has decent characterization, especially about his motivations.
- The animation is smooth and beautiful.
- The credits at the end are decently animated.
- Hans Zimmer and Steve Mazzaro deliver a decent score.
- The baby designs are cute.
- Tim and Boss Baby are okay protagonist.
The Boss Baby received mixed-to-negative 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 6.2 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 GMW.