The Oscar Project
The first film on my list for Best Animated Feature from last year is The Boss Baby. This is a hugely fun film from Dreamworks and for anyone who has ever been a big (or little) sibling, parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent...OK, anyone who's ever been around an infant, you will instantly relate to some of the scenes in this film which is based on a picture book of the same name.
It was a little serendipitous that this film arrived in theaters last year right around the same time my family added a baby of our own, with two older kids that fit perfectly in the age range of the character in the film.
I will say up front that Alec Baldwin was the perfect selection for the lead role in this film and absolutely carried the movie. I had absolutely no trouble matching the voice with the character on screen. With that, let's get on to the summary.
Before long, Time discovers that the new baby can talk. Not just baby babble, but real words like an adult. He tries to record a conversation between Boss Baby and other toddlers that are over for a meeting ("play date"). Tim is discovered and after an action-filled chase through the backyard, Boss Baby destroys the recording. Frustrated, Tim aims to slingshot Boss Baby out the window, only to be caught by his parents and grounded for weeks.
Seeing an opportunity, Boss Baby lets Tim on his secret, that he works for Baby Corp., and explains his mission to find out why puppies are gaining more love than infants. We learn that Tim's parents work for Puppy Co. and they will be attending a pet convention in Las Vegas where Puppy Co. will unleash a new puppy. Boss Baby's boss threatens to fire him if he does not produce the information he was sent to obtain, leading Boss Baby and Tim to join forces.
After proving that they can he can get along with Boss Baby, Tim's grounding is lifted so he can attend take your child to work day at Puppy Co with Boss Baby. They slip away and discover the plans for the new "Forever Puppy," only to be captured by Puppy Co. founder and CEO, Francis E. Francis. Francis turns out to be the original Boss Baby who was fired when the formula that kept them as babies didn't work due to his lactose intolerance. He plans to steal the formula from Baby Corp. and use it to keep his puppies young forever. Tim's parents travel to Las Vegas with Francis while he leaves his brother Eugene posing as Tim and Boss Baby's babysitter to keep them from interfering.
Boss Baby and Tim manage to escape from Eugene and make it to the airport just as their parents plane leaves. They think hope is lost, but sneak aboard a plane full of Elvis impersonators also heading to Las Vegas. Upon reaching the pet convention, Francis locks up Tim's parents and plans to burn them up with exhaust from the rocket he is using to launch the Forever Puppies. Tim and Boss Baby successfully save their parents, defeat Francis, and ultimately save Baby Corp., leading to Boss Baby's promotion and the removal of any memory of Boss Baby from the family home.
Tim realizes that he misses Boss Baby and sends him a letter along with a box full of toys which convinces him to return. When he wakes up the next morning, Boss Baby is back, now as Theodore Lindsey Templeton, missing his suit, but not his abrupt demeanor. The final scene cuts back to the present day where Tim is telling the story to his daughter and he finishes with the lesson that there was always enough love to go around. A now grown Boss Baby shows up and the three move to an observation window in the hospital to see the new baby sister sit up in her cradle...wearing a suit.
In terms of my personal opinion of the film, I thoroughly enjoyed it and have seen it more than probably any other film nominated last year. (Thank you Netflix for making it available whenever my kids want to watch it.) The voice cast is great, with some decent stars in Alec Baldwin, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Steve Buscemi, and Toby Maquire. While Alec Baldwin carries much of the film, newcomer Miles Bakshi holds his own as the voice of young Tim.
My absolute favorite part of this film is how well it transitions from traditional storytelling to over-the-top fantasy and back again. The opening sequence of the film demonstrates how Tim lets his imagination run wild when playing with his parents, pretending that they are giant jungle gorillas or that he is saving them from some impending doom. Connect this with his statement at the end to his daughter, "that's how I remember it" and you realize that the entire story is likely something Tim imagined. It's so unlikely that he and his baby brother escaped to the airport and sneaked aboard a plane to Las Vegas, but the way it's presented as part of the overall flashback of the film, we believe it to be possible.
The overall message of the film that there can be enough love for everyone is sure to hit home for any parent that struggles to balance attention between more than one child. It begs the inevitable question about a sequel where perhaps a puppy shows up, demanding a new level of attention. Will Tim and Ted band together yet again, or be driven apart by the new pet? I'm just spit balling here but there are confirmed reports of a sequel in the works.
Lastly, the animation style of the film is fun and lends itself well to the adventures that Tim imagines throughout. The transitions are seamless, but at the same time, the filmmakers made it clear when something is clearly his imagination and when he believes it to be a "true" part of the story.
Leave a comment below with your thoughts on The Boss Baby.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?