The Boss Baby

 

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There's a new baby in town - and he means business.

 

The Boss Baby
 

It’s not just policemen who are beginning to look younger, but the odd CEO as well. The Boss Baby, the new computer-animated cartoon from DreamWorks, provides a corporate take on the whole paediatric thing. It’s less Monsters, Inc. than Babies, Inc., with the star attraction a drooling, flatulent, vomiting monster with a voice vaguely reminiscent of Donald Trump. This might be because the eponymous tot is voiced by Alec Baldwin, who’s boosted his career of late by playing the 45th president on Saturday Night Live. Anyway, Baldwin’s bambino is a briefcase-toting infant who one day arrives by taxi at the residence of Ted and Janice Templeton, upsetting the blissful equilibrium of the Templeton family dynamic. Our narrator is Tim Leslie Templeton (Tobey Maguire), who has been relishing the undivided attention of his doting Mum and Dad. Together, they had created the ideal domestic triangle – “the strongest shape found in nature,” Tim tells us. And now there’s the new kid in town, whose round-the-clock demands are sadistic, to put it mildly…

 

If The Boss Baby weren’t so funny it would be a horror film. It digs deep beneath the flimsy patina of sibling unanimity and reveals something altogether darker, and meaner. We all want to be special in our parents’ eyes, but for how long can we hold onto that monopoly? When Dad (Jimmy Kimmel) talks of “loving the new baby with all his heart,” Tim’s blood runs cold. He’s lost his anchor. Worse still, the baby is not all he would appear to be. And he sees Tim as an obstacle to be subdued. Staring Tim down, the nipper observes, “you obviously didn’t go to business school. You’re fired!” Pathetically, Tim Hresponds, “you can’t be fired from your own family…”

 

The director Tom McGrath, who revealed his acumen with the Madagascar trilogy, hits the floor running with his new film, juggling smart musical choices with a variety of directorial styles, while cramming the screen with comic energy, ingenious imagery and cinematic allusions. It’s also very crude, but in an amusingly innocuous way, so that while we’re treated to a plethora of natal clefts, the male genitalia is pixilated – as if it were there in the first place. As for the Boss Baby, he’s about as cuddly as a chainsaw, but then he did arrive by taxi, not the usual way. He tells Tim, “if people really knew where babies come from, they’d never have one. The same with hot dogs.”

P.S. Rarely for a film in 3D, the extra perspectives are made the most of, so beware the prospect of flying toys and cataracts of drool.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Voices of  Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Miles Bakshi, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Tobey Maguire, James McGrath.

 

Dir Tom McGrath, Pro Ramsey Ann Naito, Screenplay Michael McCullers, Ed James Ryan, Music Hans Zimmer and Steve Mazzaro.

 

DreamWorks Animation-20th Century Fox.

97 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 7 April 2017. Cert. U.