The 400-Word Review: The Boss Baby
By Sean Collier
April 4, 2017
Among the reasons I decided to start writing reviews at the precise length of 400 words — aside from a penchant for Facebook-appropriate brevity — was the thought that any film, no matter how unremarkable, is worthy of about that much text.
That premise may be undone by The Boss Baby. This movie is just so completely unremarkable that I’m not sure what I can even point out about it that isn’t self-evident.
You want me to explain to you that it’s not that good? You could’ve assumed that. You want me to illustrate how it’s unoriginal? Of course it is. You want me to comment on how quickly the theoretical humor of Alec Baldwin’s voice coming out of a baby wears thin? It does so instantly.
You knew that. It’s old by the end of the trailer.
Nevertheless, here we are. So: The Boss Baby, apparently unaware of last year’s similar and slightly superior Storks, posits a world where babies arrive via some form of sanitized, agnostically divine intervention. Namely, newborns who are determined not to be family material are instead shuffled into management, where they exist as perennial infants, managing the administration and delivery of more cuddly babies to families the world over.
Our nominal main character, a playful preteen named Tim Templeton (Miles Christopher Bakshi), is positively delighted by his sibling-free existence. When his parents (Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow) announce the imminent arrival of a younger brother, he’s dismayed — and terrified when it turns out that the tot (Baldwin) is an undercover operative from baby HQ, conducting a secret mission for the good of babykind.
For most of its runtime, The Boss Baby is not so much actively bad as it is simply boring. Few of the jokes land at all and a paucity will evoke more than chuckles; younger kids in the audience will snicker at the slapstick and biology, but older kids and parents are more likely to nod off.
And of course, the rote formula here — obstacles, teamwork, victory — has been seen so many times as to render it utterly useless. DreamWorks Animation, having flirted with innovation via the How to Train Your Dragon series and The Croods, seems to have decided that repetition and mediocrity are more solid plans. In an era where studios are realizing that children are smart, DreamWorks remains obstinate in believing that they are not.
My Rating: 3/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark