Date Released: 31st March 2017
Date Seen: 4th November 2017
In 1999 the movie Baby Geniuses was released, a film about a bunch of babies who have superhuman intelligence who were kidnapped by a bunch of scientists who were trying to understand just how intelligent babies are. It was not a good movie. Boss Baby takes the “Hyper-intelligent baby” aspect and animated it. The results are… well, interesting would be the kind term.
The Boss Baby focusses on Tim, a young boy with a very active imagination who one day ends up getting a baby brother who turns up in a suit and with one eyebrow permanently raised. Turns out this is The Boss Baby (Played by Alec Baldwin) who has one job, to stop an evil pet company from releasing a new breed of dog that will take all the love away from babies. He has some help from some other hyper-intelligent babies and Tim but for the most part, it’s all on him.
In this movie’s credit, the animation is pretty spectacular. It feels like it belongs in an old Warner Brother’s cartoon with all the extreme slapstick that comes along with that style. I enjoyed a lot of the design in the movie, the timing for the physical comedy worked and I loved the sequences that were set in Tim’s imagination. The transitions between the imagination and the real world were really well done and had a fluidity to them that just worked with this style of a film. I’m also going to have to just give props to Alec Baldwin who turns in a pretty fun performance, I have to admit I giggled when he yelled “Victory nap” or “Stress nap” because his delivery on those lines was pretty awesome.
Some of the jokes in this movie do actually work, they fit the narrative and got a good chuckle or two out of me but the problem is that a lot of the jokes are ones you kinda need to be an adult to really latch onto. No kid is going to laugh at a Glengarry Glen Ross reference or at an entire scene where the entire joke is “You will suck it”, a very clear innuendo joke there. This is a film that’s clearly aimed more toward an older crowd based on its actual content but was marketed towards kids because School holiday crowds are amazing things for studios. This is not to say that you can’t have a comedy meant for the whole family, you absolutely can but this movie felt like it was skewing older with its references… they namedrop Lennon and McCartney, not sure many 8-year-olds are up to date on their Beatles songbooks. Also, do we really need endless baby butts on film? When you have to blur a baby penis, you have officially pushed the “naked baby” joke way too far.
The problem I have with this movie is that it picked something so uninteresting as it’s hook, the entire joke is that this baby works in middle management and after a while, jokes about memos stop being funny even when delivered by a baby. It’s a joke that works in a 5-minute short film, possibly even in a 22-minute cartoon but for an hour and a half? The joke get’s old and stops being funny and we’re left to lean on this storyline about how the baby doesn’t get to be a kid and it just isn’t as interesting. The idea of a super genius baby has been done before… look how well that went. It’s not only a tough concept to make work, it can get old fast and make people lose interest. Also, just a random sidebar, it annoyed me that Alec Baldwin played the boss baby but his minions were clearly playing it more childlike. If they had maybe all sounded like supervillains or something, that’d of been better but it was one of those offputting things I just didn’t like.
It’s absolutely not the worst animated film I’ve seen this year (But this is the year The Emoji Movie came into being, so that’s not saying much), but it’s not the best. It’s something to watch if it pops up on Netflix and you’re curious but I wouldn’t rush out to grab it. And just think, they’ve greenlit a sequel because Baby Geniuses 2 was such a great plan, let’s repeat it. (Sidebar: Did you know there are 4 Baby Genius sequels? Who permitted this!)