This all-animated reboot is not great in terms of entertainment, but it has a worthwhile message.Is...
Cute until it's grating, “The Boss Baby” benefits from a game Alec Baldwin and a nifty retro look, but it's saddled with a weak plot that hits its marks without leaving an impression.
Is it worth $10? No
The trailers for “The Boss Baby” promise plenty of hip, grown-up movie references and Trump-era winking at the audience, but don't fall for the “here comes the airplane” trick. The latest delivery from DreamWorks Animation is a toothless affair, one that arguably plays as a defense of the corporate culture and nuclear family unit it purports to satirize.
That doesn't mean the family comedy, adapted by director Tom McGrath (“Madagascar,” “Megamind”) from Marla Frazee's 2010 picture book, is without its aesthetic pleasures, beginning with the characters' big-eyed retro look and a penchant for physical humor that recall Tex Avery in his heyday and UPA cartoons of the 1950s and ‘60s.
It's a real shame, since the care McGrath shows for his characters' body movements is on full display. It's a hoot, minor as it may be, to see BB, an adult trapped in an infant's body, try to carry all that baby fat around. The director is using the tools of computer animation to evoke the pliable nature of traditional cel animation, an agreeable change of pace from the current push for more photorealism. There's also a healthy amount of disarming butt jokes to go with the copious amount of naked baby derrieres, the most this critic has seen in a studio family-oriented release.
But “The Boss Baby's” virtues remain subservient to a threadbare, ill-conceived plot that just makes a lot of the movie feel mundane and stale. Tim and BB's frenemy bond has been DreamWorked into a pat, innocuous mold McGrath is all too willing to fill. On top of its impulse to refrain from rocking the boat is a running joke in which BB makes fun of Tim because his middle name is Leslie. Mocking a gender-neutral name just because it tends to be used as a girl's name is the kind of ridicule that, one would think, we had moved beyond, and I'm a little disappointed that a) it figures prominently in major 2017 studio release, and b) it's largely being ignored in the press coverage for this film. Similarly, McGrath seems to find no issue with relegating black triplets to act as BB's yes men.
Anti-Trump viewers hoping for well-timed cannon fodder aimed at the current commander in chief will have to look elsewhere. If anything, “The Boss Baby” plays like a cutesy homage to Wall Street's Masters of the Universe the former “Apprentice” host would favor. This is indoctrinating fare for bourgie families who, like Baldwin's ladder-climber in diapers, dream of a corner office with its own private potty. It's the audience who ends up feeling treated like babies.
Photos: DreamWorks Animation