No it’s not a Donald Trump gag…it’s weirder
Sometimes a children’s movie comes out that truly baffles me. It stars people of good reputation, has a funny premise, and looks to be a standard yet forgettable romp that little kids will get a kick out of. But then you have the kinds of films like The Cat in the Hat, that appear on the surface to have all these qualities…and contains some truly baffling story and design choices that make you seriously question what levels of opium abuse the creators were in the middle of. The Boss Baby joins this curious brand of filmmaking for better AND worse.
We’ve got Tim Templeton (Toby Maguire) narrating about the time he was introduced to his baby brother…a baby that is always wearing a suit and carries around a briefcase with him. Oh yeah, and he also talks like a full grown man voiced by Alec Baldwin (because he IS voiced by Alec Baldwin), packing in a ton of business speak and motivational poster quotations. Turns out the Boss Baby isn’t just at the Templeton home to be Tim’s little brother, he’s really a manager from Babyco that is at the home to get close to Tim’s parents (Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow) so that he uncover the secret behind their workplace, Puppyco, in order to prevent puppies from earning more love from people than babies…only you’re not sure if everything you’re witnessing is really happening because Tim has an over reactive imagination and…yes, that’s literally the plot of the film.
Now normally you’d think the creators smoked one hell of a blunt to come out with a plot like this, but I hypothesize that the creators took something…stronger. Like bath-salts-that-make-you-want-to-eat-another-person’s-face-stronger. Because this is one of the most insane and freakiest children’s movies I have seen since Mike Myers’ The Cat in the Hat. For those of you who weren’t brave enough (or rather, stupid enough) to witness such a sight, just check out this specially-cut trailer for the horror-inclined and it’s really not far off from the final product. So that’s the kind of hell you’re in for when it comes to this movie.
See, the film uses our protagonist’s hyper-imagination to come up with some pretty bizarre imagery that would be kind of messed up for certain kids. I’m talking about making the Boss Baby look considerably more sinister, show sucking on a pacifier as an ecstasy-induced experience, showing a fully grown man played by Steve Buscemi suck on a pacifier, child abandonment, underage drinking, and good ol’ fashioned child abuse. All of that sounds crazy, but it doesn’t lend itself to intentional comedy (actually it’s funny because it’s so horrifying why it doesn’t work).
Now the characters in this film are put through some pretty out there situations that normally wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for, say, in most cartoons from the Looney Tunes vault. And many of these cartoons relied heavily on slapstick, which was completely fine because the absurdly violent acts you were witnessing were being done to very non-human characters that were able to cure themselves almost instantaneously. Check out this supercut to get an idea of what I mean. However, The Boss Baby‘s characters (notably all children) are very human-like and when they get hurt…it doesn’t look funny, it just looks kind of wrong. And keep in mind, I’m the kind of guy who laughs at all the horrible things the kids from South Park have done to each other over the years; but once again, an exaggerated style enhances the comedy potential greatly.
Further not helping is the script is littered with bizarre double entendre and adult jokes that kids just aren’t going to understand (unless they’re in fifth grade and have begun figuring this shit out). Choice lines include, “I want you to suck it,” “Man people from Long Island make bad ice teas,” and one line that was supposed “Fat poop doodie” but actually sounded like “Fuck doodie.” And of course Alec Baldwin recites his famous line of “Coffee is for closers” as “Cookies are for closers,” because obviously kids will have watched his legendary scene in Glengarry Glen Ross…actually have most adults even remember that scene?
Ultimately, I’m left wondering who the hell this movie is supposed to be for? It’s not really a family picture due to the wacked out imagery and jokes that appeal to adults. It’s not a Sausage Party arrangement for adults where a goofy cartoon is meant to explore darker themes because the themes of The Boss Baby are so childlike and simplistic. Honestly, I could only reasonably see the youngest of young kids (basically toddlers) have any sort of appeal for this film. It’s got enough bright colors and an easy lesson on sibling-love (kind of) that wouldn’t be the worst thing ever, but it’s absolute torture for anyone that just walked into elementary school.
That’s because this film feels as if it were written as the animators went along. They began with a theme of brotherhood but then it devolved into a lesson on imagination as well as remaining young at heart because the Boss Baby is so obsessed with work as opposed to just being a kid and…yeah I need to freaking stop with this shit. It’s a descent into ear-fucking madness trying to parse what the hell this film is supposed to do.
Dreamworks has been coasting with mediocre entries and hasn’t made a single thing that I liked since How to Train Your Dragon 2. But regardless of how poorly received these things are, they still make a profit (somehow) and this film will likely be no exception. I wish they would make a revival the way Pixar managed to turn itself around, but I won’t hold my breath. Ultimately, I didn’t hate The Boss Baby if only because I was so fascinated with how bizarre everything was. It’s not crazy enough to be on the level of “so-bad-it’s-great,” it’s just barely skirting the edges of a…