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One Movie Punch

Jan 12, 2018

Today’s movie is “The Boss Baby” from DreamWorks Animation, the producers behind hits like “Shrek”, “How to Train Your Dragon”, and “Kung Fu Panda”. “The Boss Baby” is the story of Tim Templeton (Miles Bakshi), an imaginative only child coming to grips with the arrival of his new baby brother, The Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin). Unbeknownst to Tim, The Boss Baby arrived from Baby Corp, where all babies come from, on a secret mission to gather intelligence on a new breed of puppy coming from PuppyCo, where Tim’s parents work.

I have a lot of problems with this film, most of which stem from previous attempts to turn picture books into feature-length films. “The Boss Baby” is based on the famous picture book of the same name, an excellent book to help any only child understand their first sibling. The book is also efficient in getting the message across. The film takes the 32-page picture book and expands it into a ninety-minute film, requiring the creation of a major plot and to flesh out the characters, not to mention launch another intellectual property for DreamWorks Animation.

Writer Michael McCullers turns The Boss Baby from a demanding infant into a hybrid of Blake in “Glengarry Glen Ross” (1992) and Jack Donaghy on “30 Rock”, which, let’s face it, had a little Blake in him as well. It was only natural to cast Alec Baldwin as the lead, but it also makes the character a caricature of both roles. It also feels like the film is a total and utter appropriation of the incredibly dark and socially aware content of “Glengarry Glen Ross”, distilling that masterpiece down to its dark comedic elements, then shoehorning it into a children’s movie. All that was missing was a joke about brass balls.

The script is littered with one-liners, gimmicks, pop culture references, and lots of poop humor. In addition to the character inspirations, I saw references to Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Mouse Trap. IMDB currently lists 21 references. The film also has some tasteless attempts to embed sexually-themed humor, which I wouldn’t believe for a minute that a father would tell their daughter as part of the story.

Hold on, I’m not done yet! I did find the animation to be top quality, as would be expected from DreamWorks Animation, but I felt the film also lacked a consistent aesthetic. Each scene looked great on its own, and the music would fit it well, but side-by-side, it could be distracting. As this property has already been cleared for at least one sequel, I hope they can find the consistency it needs.

Rotten Tomatoes: 52%

Metacritic: 50

One Movie Punch: 5.0/10

“The Boss Baby” (2017) is rated PG and is streaming on Netflix.