In Dreamwork’s latest CGI comedy Tim Templeton is having the perfect childhood. Being doted on by his parents and sung to sleep at the end of every evening, his pastel-coloured world is pretty much perfect. That is, until the arrival of a new baby boy who threatens to steal away all of his parents’ attention and a lot more besides.
Wearing a baby-sized business suit through-out, Tim’s titular “boss baby” then proceeds to pout and swagger around the screen like a pint-sized Gordon Gecko, tossing out business euphemisms and movie quotes seemingly for the benefit of any cine-literate adults in the audience rather than his on-screen cohorts.
The more it goes on ‘The Boss Baby’ starts to feel like its hilarity was created in a boardroom meeting, one where “sibling rivalry” and “corporate business culture” were pushed together in a marketeer’s pie-chart rather than being discovered as an genuinely comedic situation.
With its humour in limbo ’The Boss baby’ then decides to imitate ’Toy Story’, with its characters’ fear of being replaced. (In ’Toy Story’ Woody is worried at being marginalised by the arrival of Buzz Light Year and here with Tim is fearful at being usurped by the boss baby). With its main conflict now established, the movie then decides to follow the afore-mentioned plot line as if devouring a path of intentionally-strewn gummy bears to its all-too logical conclusion – and this is a shame.
That said, on the upside (from the studio that brought you ‘Shrek’ and ‘Madagascar’) the animation here is really solid and the vocal talents of Baldwin, Steve Buscemi et al are played out with gusto and talent. However without a clear comedic situation to feed on, ‘The Boss Baby’ is ultimately dashed by its own Dreamworks heritage and a weak comedic device from ‘Look Who’s Talking’.
Half-way through Alec Baldwin’s boss baby character opines that “Cookies are for closers”. By aping one of the film’s adult references it unfortunately highlights its lack of child-friendly humour leaving you with an empty, jarring premise that rarely hits the adult wit it’s aiming for.