Seven-year-old Tim Templeton (Miles Bakshi) has a thirst for adventure and a big imagination. His mother (Lisa Kudrow) and father (Jimmy Kimmel) adore him and are always up for fun and games. Tim’s a very happy kid overall – that is until his parents come home with a new baby brother. The Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin) has the Templetons running around doing whatever he wants and attending to his every call, much to Tim’s frustration. One night, Tim discovers that this is no ordinary infant. The Boss Baby can talk and is highly intelligent, and if Tim is to have any chance at having his parents’ love and attention all to himself again, they’ll have to work together to foil a ploy going down at Puppy Co., where Mr. and Mrs. Templeton work.
'The Boss Baby' has a great cast and the fact that many of them have had prior experience of lending their voices to animation works in its favour. The Baby is voiced by Alec Baldwin, who is currently finding great reception for his regular sketches impersonating Donald Trump on SNL. Speaking of TV personalities, Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow voice Tim’s mother and father, and they are a great fit too. Tobey Maguire narrates (and in fairness, Tobey Maguire is a damn good narrator) and Steve Buscemi plays Francis E. Francis, Tim’s parents’ boss – their employer that is, not the baby. Newcomer Miles Bakshi also impresses as the film’s lead, Tim.
The movie’s animation is simple yet effective, and there are a number of sequences which are a testament to the creativity of its animators. These include a scene at the start of the film in which an enormous number of babies are transported around (baby heaven? It’s never totally clear) via conveyor belts as they are powdered up, dressed and tickled, inspiring both giggles and ‘aww’s from the audience. A storybook sequence that comes in the middle of the film is another standout. There are also a number of fantasy sequences, inspired by the fact that Tim’s imagination tends to run away with him, and 3D lends itself especially well here.
The film takes a little too long to kick into gear but it’s worth the wait. Once we’ve gone through all the obligatory chapters of the story we know are coming – boy is happy with family being just he and his parents, baby comes along, baby takes all attention away from boy, boy gets increasingly jealous and upset by lack of attention from parents – we get into the more exciting ‘buddy’ movie slash spy film plot we’ve been waiting for. It is also from this point that the movie becomes way funnier and the jokes inspired by a cynical take on office life mesh surprisingly well with gags about the adorable habits of babies. Be prepared though – there are a lot of butt jokes (yes, these movies are primarily for kids, but surely even their sense of humour goes beyond jokes about bottoms and flatulence?).
Having had such great success with the 'Shrek' and 'How to Train Your Dragon' franchises, Dreamworks pursue their plan of trying to cut a niche in the animation industry, but the ending to 'The Boss Baby' (which is dragged out for way too long) feels very Disney. It’s super cheesy, and in vying for this type of finale, the film ends up losing the sharp bite of what preceded. It lets itself down as a result. Still, this movie should provide a fun and amusing enough outing for kids and grown-ups too.