Thank you Tom McGrath and Marla Frazee for creating a kids film that parents can also appreciate. More than a mere animated film about the tyranny of an adopted “boss baby”, the film takes not so subtle glances at the responsibilities of a big brother and the effect that a new kid can have a household. It’s also a very funny film that will gather more chuckles out of its older audience than the preferred younger demographic, and that is for a simple reason: Alec Baldwin.
The actor’s voice work isn’t just spot on for the title role, but will remind cinemaholics of his brief yet legendary role in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. Instead of telling poor young Tim (voice as a kid by Miles Christopher Bakshi and as adult by Tobey Maguire) to put the coffee down, the cookies are restricted in Michael McCullers script. When I finished watching Glengarry for the first time, all I wanted was more of Baldwin’s shadowy yet vital figure. With Boss Baby, I was given a full serving of his anarchic personality.
What’s it all about? Tim isn’t pleased when his parents (delightfully voiced by Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow) welcome a baby brother, who is dressed like a Quentin Tarantino Reservoir Dog instead of a onesie. From the moment the baby sits down and the dinner table and belts out a cry, the older brother knows he has met his match. The baby has the two adults firmly placed in the palm of his hand, but Tim knows its more than simple cute looks and endearing giggling.
The best parts of the script are the glimpses inside a child’s imagination-how everything he sees in real form is warped into a different kind of universe that is both heightened and saturated with wild imagery. A car race between Tim and the baby is turned into a fast and furious type drag race, and a quiet search through a house transforms into a scene from a science fiction novel. This invigorates the kids in the audience and will provide the “older” kids with a glimpse into their own past. At some point, we all played make-believe and McGrath triggers that easily.
Frazee’s book (which the film is based on) isn’t afraid to shine an unprotected light on the dichotomy that emerges when a new child enters a home-the domino effect it can cause without warning. In addition to the Baldwin wizardry and toddler jokes, there’s a wise message about foster parenting and sibling rivalry that cuts just deep enough to resonate. Most directors and screenwriters may have overlooked that to make a buck, but McGrath and McCullers wisely have fun with it.
While the finale is predictable and the moral gift wrapped like an Easter egg placed on freshly cut grass, Boss Baby succeeds at making you laugh and playfully twists the adventures and mishaps that may come within the house of a family. It also makes me want to buy my five year old son a suit and tie.
If Smurfs is too friendly for your tastes, take the kid to see Boss Baby. There’s an adult trapped inside this kids flick.
(First posted on ksdknews.com)