2 April 2017 | bkrauser-81-311064
"Put the cookie down! Cookies are for closers." It seems this entire movie is created around that one joke. I mean, has there ever been any question that anyone other than Alec Baldwin could have sold the high concept of a cutthroat, suit wearing, and management oriented baby? What other voice would have struck the right balance between referentially satisfying and patently absurd? Gary Cole? Of course the film's reference to Baldwin's character in Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) is twenty-five years old and at times that's how stale some of the film's gags feel. Luckily for the movie and its intended audience, the premise is grounded in its sweetly irreverent narrative told from the perspective of a seven-year-old boy.
Timmy (Bakshi) is a stereotypical cartoon movie child. He's precocious, easily identifiable, humorously naïve, charismatic and imaginative to the point of coming up with elaborate hijinks on the fly to further the plot. In fact, the only difference between him and Elliott from E.T. (1982) is he actually gets all the attention he craves from his doting parents (Kimmel and Kudrow), complete with a regular five story, four hug and one song bedtime special. That is until The Boss Baby (Baldwin) arrives with his briefcase full of memos on a mission from the aptly named Baby Corp. After a time squabbling, Timmy and the Boss Baby team up to uncover a mass conspiracy involving their parents' employer, a late addition villain (Buscemi) and puppies who have apparently been stealing all the love.
The inner-mechanics of Boss Baby's world is riddled with holes, pacing issues and confusion but because the entire story is being told by an adult Timmy (Maguire) recollecting his interpretation of events, it never seems to matter. It rather allows the film to truly revel in some creative slapsticky moments of goofy fun young children are primed to enjoy. There are plenty of Loony Tune-esque chase sequences, quickly-paced flights of fancy, playful sight-gags and plenty and I mean plenty of butt related jokes. It may prove a little repetitive for attentive parents but considering the prime demographic is going to be darting back and forth between bathroom-breaks it's not like parents of young children will mind.
Of course telling the entire yarn from Timmy's POV proves a double-edged sword at times. The film goes through great pains to deliver the stakes needed to elevate its one-joke premise. But since the emotional arc of the story is all but written in stone from the first act, all of the tension feels hollow and redundant. We're seeing what amounts to a holiday free A Christmas Story (1983) with a talking baby. Yet while that movie ruminates on "an interesting Christmas" this movie asks; "will our two heroes wind up being brothers." Bereft of any real consequence, The Boss Baby winds up being a mildly entertaining family-oriented feature with a couple of good sigh-gags and some pretty outdated jokes. The larger message is just uncommon enough for tacit approval though I'm a little worried some kids might figure out alternative uses for baby bungee bouncers. As a younger brother myself I'm surprised I lasted this long with my siblings in the house.