Fans of 30 Rock rejoice – Jack Donagee is back in the boardroom. Well, sort of. In The Boss Baby, Alec Baldwin lends his voice to a tiny tyrant in diapers, dispatched to take on the one thing that threatens babies’ place as the kingpins of cuteness: puppies. It’s a pretty zany concept for a kids’ movie, but coming from director Tom McGrath (Madagascar, Megamind) we wouldn’t really expect anything less.
If you’ve seen the trailer you’ll probably have a good idea of what to expect – this is a film that really does exactly what it says on the tin. That’s not necessarily a criticism of The Boss Baby; it’s a charming kid’s film with a couple of adult jokes thrown into the mix, and fans of Baldwin in particular will enjoy his no-nonsense performance as the titular character, who bears a strong resemblance to America’s current Commander in Chief (something that McGrath has said is entirely coincidental). Also lending their vocal talent to the cast are Steve Buscemi, Tobey Maguire, Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmel, but the real star of the show beyond Baldwin is Miles Christopher Bakshi as The Boss Baby’s seven-year-old brother Tim, whose performance brims with enthusiasm and emotion.
Unfortunately, the film’s premise wears thin quickly, and the plot is formulaic and weak – particularly when comparing to the likes of Disney’s recent animated blockbuster Zootropolis, which managed to be witty and entertaining whilst still dealing with adult themes, or even McGrath’s previous efforts in Megamind, which was a genuine delight to watch and flipped the superhero genre on its head. There’s just not enough in the script to sustain the film’s 90 minute runtime, and the jokes are all a little one-note: babies are cute, siblings fight, and businessmen are boring. Even with a strong vocal cast, it feels like the script could have been much stronger.
However, the film comes into its own with beautiful animation that really captures the spirit of childhood and brings Tim’s active imagination to life. A lot of time and effort has clearly been dedicated to creating a technicolour rendering of what a child’s mind looks like, and it pays off. The film bursts with colour and vibrancy, and Hans Zimmer’s score is (as always) pitch-perfect, particularly in the film’s closing scene. Anyone with a younger sibling will likely relate to Tim’s initial resentment of the family’s new arrival, and the ending is a masterclass in heart-warming cinema.
The Boss Baby might not be a ground-breaking film, or even a particularly memorable one, but can be appreciated if you’re able to look past the weak storytelling. It’s definitely one for the kids, but there’s plenty for parents to enjoy too – and Alec Baldwin really is on top form.
The Boss Baby is released on April 7th.