Baldwin fails to save predictable animated film

Photo courtesy of Dreamworks Animation

“Boss Baby” is one of those movies that could have had some sort of real potential if it had been directed by a creative powerhouse, like the Pixar of the late 2000’s. Instead, it feels like a short movie extended to 97 minutes of aggressively mediocre Hollywood drivel. It joins a long list of films that run on the belief that children are, at their core, willing to buy anything shiny enough.

The film has a fun and lighthearted premise: the protagonist, an unreliable narrator, must deal with a ruthlessly corporate new baby brother. The problem is that the writers of “Boss Baby” came up with what basically any person would come up with in about 15 minutes, given the premise as a writing prompt.

The writers seem to be just a single step above the types of people who recite memes in real life instead of coming up with their own jokes. As a rule of thumb, if every joke of the movie has the same punchline, it is not a good movie. Everyone knows he is a baby and a businessman, and yet that is as far as the comedy goes.

There is one fantastic part to this movie though, and that is Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”). His role as the baby himself is basically a parody of his now legendary role in Glengarry Glen Ross, and the writers knew this. He provides every meager chuckle “Boss Baby” had to offer and seems to have been the only comedic mind involved with the project.

The supporting cast provided various levels of disappointing performances. Lisa Kudrow (“Friends”) gave a lukewarm but passable impression as a zany mother. Jimmy Kimmel (“Jimmy Kimel Live”), on the other hand, somehow found a way to sound even more annoying than usual within just a couple minutes.

The film also had one scene that was skillfully executed in which a classic “Tom and Jerry” style chase takes place. Along with a couple other physical gags sprinkled throughout the movie, this situational comedy scene is the only effective source of humor outside of Baldwin’s performance. Perhaps the film could have been a wonderful silent feature in another reality.

Animated movies from big studio names like Dreamworks, Disney and, unfortunately as of late, Pixar have started falling into a pit of extreme predictability. Some have even reached the point of following tropes more than bad romantic comedies.

Critics seem to have been worn down by and have accepted the fiction that children simply cannot understand more complex plot structures. The irony, of course, is that children are then expected to feel and understand more complex emotions.

Just because of how babies and the real world work, it should not be a spoiler that in the end, the “Boss Baby” is just a baby that is actually the protagonist’s  younger brother.

Throughout the film, he has the mind of a grown man, so the film’s climax is his decision about whether or not to stay with the family. Since the decision is literally a guarantee by the premise of the film and clearly evident to anyone watching the movie regardless of age, “Boss Baby” actually managed to achieve a new level of predictability.

Having added zero nuance, complexity or anything interesting at all, the film can in its entirety be described by the joke “Imagine if you made Alec Baldwin a baby.” There is no punchline either, just as this movie has no humor or intrigue. Neither satisfied audiences nor awards seem to be in the future of “Boss Baby.”

Though“Boss Baby” is now showing in major theaters, such as Regal Atlantic Station, it premiered as part of the Atlanta Film Festival, which took place from March 23 to April 2,

The Atlanta Film Festival is an international festival that showcases a highly diverse set of narrative and documentary films. The Oscar-qualifying festival takes place in different theaters around the neighborhoods of the metro-Atlanta area.

The annual event has hosted award winning films, big blockbusters and darling indies alike. The conferences also act as a key component of the festival, creating a space where aspiring students and fans of the medium can learn more about the art and craft of filmmaking. “Boss Baby,” however, likely did not make a lasting impact to viewers at this festival.