While it’s supposed to be good, clean fun, The Boss Baby only ends up being drab, formulaic boredom.
Seven-year-old Tim loves being an only child, that is until his world is turned upside down by a new baby brother. Unlike most baby brothers, this one can talk and prefers suits and sushi to diapers and applesauce. The two eventually team up to foil the plans of Puppy Co., whose CEO is plotting to overthrow babies as the cutest and most loved. It’s a straightforward plot that is as formulaic as you expect. Even though Baby Corp (where babies come from) is run by babies, Puppy Co. isn’t run by puppies and somehow Tim (Tobey Maguire as the narrator/adult version and Miles Bakshi as young Tim) can understand Boss Baby’s extensive vocabulary, his parents (voiced by Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmel) think he’s just another baby.
Plot holes abound in this film as the script focuses more on telling jokes than creating an engaging story. The world building is interesting enough. Explaining that babies come from some sort of factory in the sky feels easily understandable and kid-appropriate. Much of its humor relies on Alec Baldwin as the titular Boss Baby, channeling every ounce of 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy in infant form. Sure, it’s a fun schtick, but a schtick isn’t enough to fuel an entire film. In relying so heavily on Baldwin’s performance, the humor often seems stuck between being accessible to kids and funny to adults yet never manages to land either tone. Lines like, “Where’s HR when you need ‘em?” may be funny to adults, but such rapid office references will go over the heads of kids. Likewise, there’s only so many poop jokes adults can tolerate.
Much of the film comes from Tim’s perspective, which allows us to view the world through his hyperactive imagination. Him and Boss Baby duke it out in elaborate car chases and scenarios in fun animation sequences that mostly turn out to be Tim’s overactive imagination at work. It’s a fun touch to an otherwise lackluster film. Baldwin certainly tries his hardest and wins points for translating his natural asshole charm to a tiny suit-wearing baby with a head as big as his body. But the overall effectiveness of the film suffers because of their reliance on him. Perhaps it’s just because I’m so used to him as Jack from 30 Rock, but it often felt like Boss Baby wanted to delve into more adult humor, a la Sausage Party, but never did to keep their PG rating and kid-friendly audience. Ineffective at both, The Boss Baby turns out to be totally forgettable, a shame for a film with such fun performances.