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In the early days of computer-generated animation, the stories weren't very taxing but the writing was pithy, if not infantile, and the animation was breathtaking. However, as the days of Pixar and Dreamworks evolved, the stories started to become more advanced, and it seemed like the technology grew on pace with the storytelling tools that the filmmakers would use. However, with any growth medium, there's bound to be a ceiling, and The Boss Baby is further proof that maybe we should scale back on the CGI films, because while the visuals are still gorgeous, the stories are really starting to flag.
Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin) isn't like the rest of the babies out there. He's one of the elite few drafted for middle management at BabyCorp, tasked with the job of making sure the babies of the world get all of the love. That job is about to get more complicated, as rival corporation PuppyCo is about to unveil a project that's going to tip the scales of cute power. All Boss Baby has in his arsenal is his wits, his Sigma-6 style management skills, and Tim (Miles Bakshi), a brother who'd rather be an only child than cede any love to his bratty brother. Together, they're going to have to save the day, for baby and kid alike.
Even with the trailers selling the film on the sillier side, The Boss Baby manages to defy the lowest of expectations, as the film trades in both vaguely sly "adult jokes" and overly broad children's humor, with neither really landing a killing blow of entertainment. What makes this even worse is the fact that the film's story is a disjointed mess that could really use some effective humor to fill in the narrative cracks. With the right jokes and set-pieces, this film could have flown through its running time. Instead, we get a mish-mash of two film's worth of ideas that could have easily been split into two, fully written, and possibly funnier films.
And yet, The Boss Baby still has a murderer's row of talent at its disposal who do not flag at any point in the film. Alec Baldwin, despite being given sub-par dialogue, sells the idea of BabyCorp and even just Boss Baby's character with such Donaghy-an prowess, you'd be ready to buy into it all if it made just a little more sense. Partnered with young actor Miles Bakshi, the pair work pretty effectively as a team, and do their best to elevate the film to a better standard than it's built for. Even supporting players like Steve Buscemi, Lisa Kudrow, and Jimmy Kimmel all contribute in their own ways, but for the most part, this is Baldwin and Bakshi's show.
But perhaps the best component of The Boss Baby are the retro-futuristic visuals the film is drenched in. The folks who designed the film's look must have really loved The Incredibles, because that film's 60's jet-set style visuals are well represented in every frame of this film. The color palette and the designs at work are really a marvel to behold, and there are patches of this film that could easily become great poster / cover art. If your kids make you sit through The Boss Baby, rest assured that while the film itself won't entertain you, picking through the film's lush imagery will certainly keep you awake for most of the film.
Were The Boss Baby released around 1997 or so, this could have been a well-received hit with kids and adults alike. But, much like some of the lesser animated efforts released into Hollywood today, this film does not hold up to the level of storytelling that kid's films can put out when they're really at their best. What The Boss Baby lacks in cohesive story, it makes up for in gorgeous retro-styled visuals. Judging by how beautiful the film is, you can see just how lacking the story is. If cookies are for closers, The Boss Baby doesn't even get the set of Fisher Price steak knives.