The Boss Baby

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Director: Tom McGrath

Starring: Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Tobey Maguire, Miles Bakshi, James McGrath

Written by: Michael McCullers and (based on the book) Maria Frazee

Running Time: 97 mins

Cert: U

Release date: 1st April 2017

Not since The Secret Life of Pets has a film offered so much but delivered so little. On the surface, The Boss Baby should have been a blast. Instead, this one-joke movie has to 97 minutes to fill and it struggles, even if the whole concept is being sold on the voice talent of one actor, Alec Baldwin.

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Tim is a seven-year-old with an active imagination who seems to have the perfect life being a child without brothers and sisters. His life is turned upside down with the arrival of Boss Baby, a toddler who dresses in a suit and starts running the household. Filled with jealousy, Tim discovers that this new child can talk and is, in fact, working for an organisation called BabyCorp, sent to infiltrate and stop Puppy Co from stealing all the love from babies.

The joke is that there is a baby who wears a dark suit and has the voice of Alec Baldwin. That’s it. It seems that the makers of this animated feature found that hilarious and so just ran with it, forgetting that there was a full-length feature to fill. What they came up with is a mess. A succession of unimaginative and unoriginal slapstick moments and references to TV and films from the past that no one who this film is aimed at would get or even understand. Quite frankly, most of the adults would fail to remember the TV series S.W.A.T, as the theme music is used for a chase sequence.

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If the jokes don’t work, then the sentimentality falls flat on its face. In the latter stages, it goes for moralising and whim but it lacks the depth of something that Disney and Pixar can handle. This wants to be Toy Story but thinks that by being colourful and full of energy, like a kid loaded up with sugar, is enough. We don’t get to shed a tear because it is constantly pushing us away, keeping us at arm’s length.

There is the odd moment when the humour does work: a plane full of Elvis impersonators (somewhat borrowed from Honeymoon In Vegas) raised a smile as did the cheeky talcum powder scene. The rest of the film you are left stony-faced, desperately waiting for a bit of wit or something exciting to happen. The real problem is that we’ve been here before many times, where if in doubt, throw in a chase or something that might cause embarrassment. What they should have done is used Alec Baldwin better.

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Here is an actor who has turned his career around and is often self-deprecating (as proven in the recent BT ads) and know how to deliver a funny line (his re-inventions thanks to both 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live has certainly proved that). Instead, this is a talking baby with his voice. Bruce Willis was funnier in Look Who’s Talking and, quite frankly, that was terrible as well.

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It’s brightly coloured and the animation is fine and if you get the pop references, they are okay, never hilarious. What this film needs is a stronger but imaginative script and better use of its star. To say this is disappointing is an understatement. This is just not good enough.

2/5

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