Ask me about the best days of my life and I’ll tell you, unequivocably, that it was the time when my little brother came into my life with his chubby little bum and pudgy fingers, smiling like an idiot that he was (and still is!). Strangely, I still remember the day when we went to the hospital when he was about to arrive. I was just four years old and had never been more excited in my life. So much so, that I kept pestering the nurses with a constant barrage of questions – “Is he here yet ? When is he coming ?” Well, I would have loved to have a sister as well but my simple mind had involuntarily formed the impression of a small boy who’d be my brother, so there I was dancing on everyone’s heads until someone scared me away with a needle.
Adapted from a 2010 book by writer and illustrator Marla Frazee and directed by Tim McGrath, The Boss Baby begins with the story of a seven year old boy named Tim Templeton (voiced by Miles Christopher). Being the only child of his parents, he got all their attention and love. He would listen to bedtime stories and go on imaginary quests with his parents who loved to participate and play around his antics. However, his perfect life was soon about to change. One day, the Templetons, bring home a baby boy introducing him as Tim’s brother. From that moment on, everything goes topsy turvy in Tim’s life as the baby starts to eat away all of his parents’ time. He would throw food, cry in the middle of the night and drive everyone crazy with his unending tantrums. One night Tim’s interest is piqued when he hears a voice in the night coming from the baby’s room. As he peeks inside, he sees the baby (voiced by Alec Baldwin) speaking in the voice of a grown man, talking about some secret mission he was working on. As his greatest fears are realized, Tim makes it his mission to get to the bottom of this mysterious boss baby.
McGrath’s hilarious sketch of infants as angry bosses is bang on point. The baby is always shown to wear suit which magnifies this image all the more. Babies are exactly like those short-tempered, ill-mannered bosses who like to keep members of their staff on their toes, always making them run around for errands and throwing a fit when deadlines are not met. I have to admit, I kept seeing Trump’s face the whole time ! There, now that I have put that image in your head, you’d see him too. The Dreamworks Animation team does a fabulous job in capturing the nuances and mannerisms of babies through exaggerated (in a good way) animations and funny sequences. The screenplay cuts from Tim’s viewpoint to his parents’ viewpoint from time to time which brings out an interesting perspective on how grown-ups see the world of their kids. In one scene, Tim is shown to be caught up in a high-octane car-chase where he is being dragged around the lawn in the fashion of the Fast and Furious franchise. When the scene shifts to his parents’ perspective, he is shown to being dragged at snail’s pace by his little brother’s car-shaped drag-cycle. Such sketches are reminiscent of Bill Watterson’s brilliantly profound Calvin and Hobbes comics where a child has a stuffed pet tiger as his buddy and they are shown to go on the most amazing adventures in their imagination.
Animators and sketch artists have this knack of bringing out the most fascinating aspects of some of the most mundane things. You have to be a crazy child in your head to produce such ideas on paper. However, The Boss Baby, even with its novel treatment of the relationship between an older and a younger brother, falls somewhat short in the second act. The simple plot which was so appealing in the opening act, gives way to an elaborate save-the-world plan that saps away the simplicity of the story. Having said that, the story is still an enjoyable joyride with snappy animations which keep you glued to the screen. After the initial wave of creepiness, Alec Baldwin’s voice gives an amazing personality to the baby with the same caustic sarcasm that we have come to closely associate with him in his Saturday Night Live performances.
Tim McGrath has given us some of the most endearing characters in films such as the hugely popular Megamind and Madagascar. His sketches are highly imaginative and blown out of proportion which is exactly what makes them so gut-punchingly funny. The Boss Baby is not one of his best works but works on many levels if you overlook trifles. It definitely makes you look at the tantrums of toddlers around you in a fresh light. They suddenly become little people with their own personalities, instead of the little bundles of babbling nonsensical aliens that we see them as.
So next time when you see your Boss yelling at you, just stay calm and give him a pen to chew, he should mellow down in about three seconds. If not, turn him on his belly and pat him gently on the back…There, there, there.
gobblpoint: The theatre I went to today was brimming with toddlers and kids, and every time something funny happened on screen, the whole place would just ring with adorable chuckles and laughter. That’s how easily the film could speak to the children. A light-hearted fun-filled sketch for everyone !
Disclaimer: The images used in this post are the sole property of the makers of this film and are not owned by us in any form whatsoever.