Little Box of Horrors: The Boss Baby
God Damn You, whoever nominated The Boss Baby for an Oscar. Damn You to… oh wait, this movie is just fine? Ok, sorry ’bout that whole damnation thing.
Well there it is. The final piece of evidence that we are not in fact living in the Prime Universe (not even the Kelvin Timeline version). I hope you are working on your sweet, sweet evil goatee; because any world that would even joke about The Boss Baby being the best animated movie of the year is firmly part of the Mirror Universe.
With the Oscar nominees for their 90th awards ceremony hitting a few days ago, we here at Deluxe Video Online are in full coverage mode. As such, I will be making a B-line for the Hannaford in Saco, Maine to rent this… film. Since I will not be picking from 3 movies, I’ve saved the section where I dunk on potential contenders for a special message to a certain someone(s):
To the Oscar Nominators:
” I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you
let my daughter go now nominate “A Silent Voice” instead of The Boss Baby, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
The Boss Baby (2017)
Tim had the perfect childhood. Loving parents, an active imagination, all the toys. Then when he turned 7, everything changed. A little brother was on the way. But this baby didn’t arrive via the hospital, home-birth, or even the stork; he took a taxi. Clad in a bespoke business suit, this was no baby: it was the Boss Baby.
While Tim (Miles Bakshi) worries about whether his parents have enough love for the two of them, the Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin) has another worry. Puppies were cutting in on the world-wide supply of love, and this was cutting babies, and his company BabyCorp, out of the picture. Tim’s parents worked for PuppyCorp, and the Boss Baby is a plant, a corporate raider in diapers. His mission, foil the launch of PuppyCorp’s newest product: the cutest puppy ever.
Wait, I Actually LIKED This?
From all the promotional material, I was dead certain I was going to hate this movie. It looked like a mashup of The Office and Baldwin’s parody of Donald Trump. The humor in the commercials seemed puerile and done-to-death. Both Tim and The Boss Baby seemed unlikable.
Well, as is the usual in Hollywood these days; the trailers lied. This time it was in a way that undersold a good picture. The core of this story is one often told in children’s stories: a new child leaves the older child feeling unloved and ignored. The story about PuppyCorp taking all the love in the world from BabyCorp was just a farcical metaphor for what Tim was dealing with on a smaller scale. It’s not groundbreaking, but it is a well-told tale that almost everyone can relate to.
It Suits You
The Boss Baby also blends styles and tropes from many other movies. It may not do them as well, but it does it well enough that every piece comes together to make a satisfying ensemble.
Tim has a massively overactive imagination. The story is narrated by an adult Tim, and we quickly get the sense that this story may be a little fishy. Maybe not a little; perhaps calling it a Big Fish tale would be more accurate. The backyard explosions might tip you off. The narrative also gives you moments out of The Wonder Years or A Christmas Story. Cultural nods and references also cast a wide net; you get jokes about The Lord of the Rings, Evil Knievel, and yes, The Office.
This patchwork brings up the last strength of The Boss Baby. The film does an above average job of presenting something that parents can enjoy alongside their children. It doesn’t land the dichotomy as strongly as The Simpsons or The Incredibles did, but it does a game job of giving the kids a laugh while also giving a meta-joke that adults can chuckle along with at the same time.
Where the Toddler Tumbles
My gripes about the movie last about as long as the trailers. Because all the jokes I found unfunny or crass were all in the trailers. You can’t avoid some poop and vomit jokes in a movie about babies, but they weren’t funny all the same. The other jokes they rammed down your throat in the trailers were also blessedly unrepresentative of the final product: there wasn’t a deep dive into corporate humor. That was fine by me. The Boss Baby couldn’t make up it’s mind whether it wanted to praise or scorn our Oligarch overlords; just as well they skirt around social commentary.
At the end of the day, I found The Boss Baby a better than average children’s film. I still don’t think it Oscar worthy, but I had some laughs, didn’t constantly check my watch (It’s a Rolex), and I even cared about Tim and The Boss Baby (spoiler: his real name is Ted) by the end.
Speaking of endings, I will have to spoil it, as I think it was the the final nudge that got me to like The Boss Baby. You’ve been warned.
The adult Tim was narrating this story to his own 7 year old daughter on the eve of a new baby entering the family. That this was most likely a tall tale told to alleviate her fears about the new baby taking all her parent’s love away was sweet. We even see an adult Ted (from the neck down), to further blur the fantasy/reality of the story: He’s still bespoke, but maybe how adult Ted turned out in real life was the inspiration for the yarn in the first place. It was a nice little bow-tie on a surprisingly good story.
And the Oscar Goes To….
Coco. This film doesn’t have a chance in Hell of winning. But all the people who threw cash at it week after week apparently knew something I didn’t. This is a perfectly fine movie for both young and old. Now if you’ll excuse me, writing that made me spit up in my mouth a little.