Like my parenting methods, Boss Baby is several great ideas that collapse into a bit of a mess when put into practice. There’s lots of exposition, some confusing threads left hanging, and at times it’s downright dull.
At its heart is that age old question, when a new baby joins a family. No, not is there enough love to go round. But where do babies come from? Oh okay and is there enough love to go round.
So first things first. Babies actually come not from the stork, or you, know, urgh, but from Babycorp – an organisation producing adorable bundles of gorgeousness that are then tested for tickles. The ticklish ones are sent to a family and the non-ticklish ones are sent to join Management at Babycorp.
It’s a very funny premise and there are some good jokes (I particularly liked the management speak); but overall it’s confusing and flat in its execution.
Having said that, watching it can be a genuinely helpful experience for older children who feel pushed out by a younger sibling, simply because Boss Baby gives them, in 7 year old Tim, a character they can identify with: I asked my own 7 year old if he ever felt like Tim. “Sometimes!” was his reply.
Babycorp is at war with Puppyco, inventors of cute handbag-ready dogs that are causing babies to fall out of fashion. Puppyco is taking over the world, and its latest invention could mean no one wants babies any more at all.
Tim (Miles Christopher Bakshi) is a happy 7 year old, the apple of his parents’ eye. His Puppyco worker parents always find time each night for three stories, five hugs and a special song for their only child. But one day his parents ask if he wants a baby brother or sister, and despite him saying no they go ahead anyway (there’s another life lesson for you right there, Tim).
Soon a tiny businessman in a suit appears in a yellow taxi. The new baby takes over the household, and it’s not long before even Tim’s nightly three stories, five hugs and special song have fallen victim to his parents’ exhaustion at the baby’s demands.
Like all oldest children, suddenly having to vie for attention is a shock for Tim. And the question is always there. Despite his parents’ assurances, Boss Baby (a perfectly cast Alec Baldwin) tells it straight: “Do the math kid. There’s only so much love to go around”.
But despite spying on his brother on playdates and team meetings no one believes him when he tells them that the baby can talk. It turns out that Tim’s baby brother is a spy for Babycorp, trying to gather intelligence on Puppyco’s latest invention: the Forever Puppy which never grows old, and is soon to be launched at the upcoming Las Vegas conference.
Tim has to grow up fast with the new baby around, and initially the two are at war; but they soon decide they have to work together to defeat Puppyco.
So what’s good about Boss Baby? There’s an enjoyable road chase with Boss Baby motivating Tim with management quotes as they career along on the older boy’s bicycle. Also the farting baby powder jokes were a big hit with my boys (I’m almost at the point where a children’s film without a fart joke isn’t allowed in the kids’ category on this site).
It also comes in at under 1 hour 40 minutes, and while was bored and my sons were sometimes confused watching it, at least it doesn’t hang around for ages.
Boss Baby will strike a chord more with first-born children than with parents, who all know that second babies rarely get a chance to take over the house and are mostly dragged around in a sling for years before anyone even checks that it’s still the same baby and you didn’t pick up the wrong one after a weigh-in. Even the baby-led weaning collapses into cold organic chips by Baby No.2.
I like to learn something from every movie I see though, and I did learn that NASCAR drivers wore nappies. I also didn’t (and still l don’t) know what a NASCAR driver is, but maybe they’ll tell us in the sequel.
There is a happy ending (Baby Boss may be tough, and he claims that “you can’t miss what you haven’t had”, but isn’t he just like all of us in wanting some kind of family to love and be loved by?).
Though I like to think there was an alternative dark ending that didn’t play well with test audiences. A part of Baby Boss would have liked that.
Watch the Boss Baby trailer now: