Film Review: ‘The Boss Baby’ Is The Loaded Diaper of Animated Comedies

Piecing together the logic of “The Boss Baby” is an absolute fool’s errand. Still, it’s better than actually following the plot of this cartoon, one that consistently lowers your expectations. Between the occasionally double edged humor that teeters on the edge of filth and the paper thin premise, there’s almost nothing here of worth. At best, “The Boss Baby” could have been an amusing short, or even a sketch on a late night show, but at feature length, this is a chore.

“The Boss Baby” lucked into Alec Baldwin becoming as beloved as he’s ever been for his portrait of Donald Trump. Despite that stroke of luck, nothing here is as inspired as that. Honestly, had this been an under the radar biopic of Trump, that would have been preferable. If you close your eyes during this animated dreck, sometimes you can almost pretend it’s that. Then, this could have been a riveting account of the dangers of unchecked narcissism and a scathing takedown of the Trump Doctrine. Instead, it’s just a poor excuse for family entertainment.

This film takes place in a world where sex doesn’t seem to exist. In fact, when young Tim (voice of Miles Christopher Bakshi and narrated as an adult Tim by the voice of Tobey Maguire) claims to have been told that’s where babies come from, he’s told he’s gross. Instead, babies are developed by an etherial company called BabyCo that spits them out on a literal conveyor belt. Normal babies are shipped, seemingly without any reasoning, to families, while a select few are ticketed for management at the company. Boss Baby (voice of Baldwin), is one such executive, and he hopes to get that coveted corner office sooner rather than later. To do that, he takes a special assignment, being sent out as the second son of Mom (voice of Lisa Kudrow) and Dad (voice of Jimmy Kimmel).

Rather than just a competition for the parents’ love with Tim, Boss Baby is actually there because the adults work at PuppyCo, and for years puppies have been more popular than babies. Yes, this movie also seems to think that if you get a puppy, that negates ever having a child. The mind reels. Anyway, with PuppyCo’s head Francis Francis (voice of Steve Buscemi) set to unveil a new breed of dog, the clock is ticking. If you think this all makes no sense, congratulations, you put more thought into this than the creators of the movie.

There’s an initial moment of enjoyment in hearing Alec Baldwin in the title role.  He’s essentially doing his “Glengarry Glen Ross” character as a baby here, but it wears thin quickly. Especially once the actual plot is in motion, much of his amusing qualities are diluted. You wouldn’t quite call Baldwin wasted here, but somehow this casting idea never bears any real fruit. The same can’t be said for Jimmy Kimmel or Lisa Kudrow, both of whom sound bored and are given absolutely nothing to do. As for Miles Christopher Bakshi, he’s serviceable enough, but his character is an incredibly weak lead. He’s designed to be in Baldwin’s shadow, but Bakshi just winds up bland in general.

Without a supporting cast to speak of, the main players get the majority of the voice time. Sure, there are small turns from Eric Bell Jr. and ViviAnn Yee, in addition to the aforementioned Buscemi and Maguire. As you might expect, it all falls upon the shoulders of Baldwin. The thing is, the material is so weak, no matter what he did, nothing was going to save this misguided fare.

Neither director Tom McGrath nor writer Michael McCullers appear to have a consistent vision for “The Boss Baby”. Based on a book by Marla Frazee, that might be where some of the blame lies, but it’s still an inexcusable offense. Iffy concepts are turned into excellent films on occasion, a la “The LEGO Movie,” so just turning this one into something watchable shouldn’t have been too hard. Alas, it’s beyond their abilities. This movie is dumb, pointless, and an insult to both babies and puppies.

The look of the film is just odd as well. Closer to psychedelic at times than child friendly, it makes no sense. The vibe is not helped by multiple double entendres of a dubious nature. There’s more than one sequence that could have a far smuttier meaning than as presented at face value. Stranger still, composer Hans Zimmer contributes the score. Really Hans? Really?

Without question, “The Boss Baby” is one of 2017’s worst releases so far. It just offers up so little, you’ll be shaking your head in disbelief. Everyone involved here in the cast, Baldwin included, deserved better. If you somehow wind up seeing this one in theaters, try out the Trump related exercise. It won’t improve the film, but it might distract your brain from the puerile activities on the screen. Better yet, just find something else to do with your time. Anything, really. It’ll be a better spent 90 minutes than the time you would be spending with “The Boss Baby”. This supervisor needs a visit from HR…

“The Boss Baby” is distributed by 20th Century Fox and opens in theaters on March 31.

GRADE: (★½)

Trailer:
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ud8j5GaqH3c&w=560&h=315]