Boss Baby review: Not so funny Baby

Seven-year-old Tim (voiced by Miles Bakshi) finds himself competing against Baby (Alec Baldwin, both above) for their parents' attention.
Seven-year-old Tim (voiced by Miles Bakshi) finds himself competing against Baby (Alec Baldwin, both above) for their parents' attention.PHOTO: DREAMWORKS ANIMATION

Casting actor Alec Baldwin as the voice of an infant who talks like an adult is perfect, so it is a pity Boss Baby's script and gags fail to match up



98 minutes/Opens tomorrow/2.5/5 stars

The story: The sudden appearance of a baby who talks like an adult (voiced by Alec Baldwin) threatens to come between seven-year-old Tim (Miles Bakshi) and his parents.

This film is just like a toddler: cute and energetic, but also constantly confusing everyone about what it wants to do.

Between the slapstick gags (such as a baby getting sniffed in the butt by a dog) and all the one-liners featuring business language such as "exit interview" and "cutbacks", the film never knows who its target audience should be.

This, as anyone in the business world will tell you, is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

Clearly, the film is hoping to hog every share of the audience pie, but jargon-filled lines such as "cookies are for closers" will just fly right over kids' heads.

Meanwhile, older viewers will know that there is already a much funnier cartoon baby who talks like an adult - Family Guy's cocky Stewie gets to be as rude as he wants because he is not restricted by a PG rating.

What this film does get right is the perfect voice casting of Alec Baldwin in the titular role - he has, after all, had plenty of practice before in the similar role of controlling executive Jack Donaghy in the television sitcom 30 Rock (2006-2013).

It also gets the visuals right - they are colourful and inventive, especially in those recurring scenes where Tim goes into his imagination mode. A trip down the stairs in his own home can be imagined as a fantastical voyage through outer space, while a tumble in the back garden is viewed as an elaborate pirate battle on the seas.

Perhaps the film-makers imagine this to be an intelligent film in the vein of Pixar's Inside Out (2015), which also delves into a child's mind. In reality, Tim's imagination sequences mostly feel like filler rather than a showcase for his anxiety over the possibility of his being replaced by a new baby brother.

Animated flicks do not always have to be sophisticated or clever. Those crazy-paced animated flicks that milk cheap laughs can be equally entertaining, such as The Penguins Of Madagascar (2014).

Boss Baby, equal parts silly and emotional as it attempts to talk about love and family, feels weirdly sandwiched in between those extremes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2017, with the headline 'Baby not so funny'. Print Edition | Subscribe