Tom McGrath’s The Boss Baby is one of those movies that reeks of being built upon a title and little else. “What if the boss … was a baby?” someone said, while Dreamworks plopped down a few million dollars to crank this one out. The Boss Baby continues a long tradition of people finding babies doing adult things to be the height of hilarity. Remember the Look Who’s Talking? franchise — here’s its spiritual successor, but with Capitalism thrown in.
The idea at the core of The Boss Baby is that love has been commodified and that there is only so much of it to go around. Our titular Boss Baby (voiced by Alec Baldwin) runs Baby Co. and needs to find out — with only so much love available in the world — why puppies have become cuter than babies. To do this, he infiltrates a family but quickly draws the suspicion of 7-year-old Tim (Miles Christopher Bakshi, Shrek Forever After).
This is basically the entire plot, as Tim and Boss Baby must join forces and stop Puppy Co. from unleashing a supercute puppy and monopolizing the world’s love. As cynical and grotesque as all this sounds typed up and simplified, The Boss Baby never sees how weird and ugly its message truly is. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it’s going to warp the minds of young children or even traumatize them, but it’s a pretty bizarre idea to float in front of children, that there’s only so much love out there — and this includes coming from your parents. I mean, I wouldn’t mind some dark, Herzogian version of The Boss Baby, but I also don’t expect to find it here.
This is because — and this is perhaps the one thing I can defend The Boss Baby for — the movie wants nothing on its mind. And I can defend this because, really, the movie’s whole idea is to be a dumb, loud cartoon. I can respect that in a lot of ways, the simplicity and outright tradition of this, but it doesn’t mean I have to enjoy watching it either. The whole “boss baby” schtick exists for little reason beyond a vehicle for slapstick and poop jokes. This — and the colorful animation — is supposedly the draw for the younger set, not the existential concerns of a world running short on love. And for their parents, you get some lazy pop culture references, like the nod to Glengarry Glen Ross that the entire marketing plan has been built around. It’s all so dreary and dumb and exactly what one expects from a movie called The Boss Baby. Rated PG for some mild rude humor. Now Playing at Carolina Cinemark Asheville, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande.