Review – Who’s The Boss? (“The Boss Baby”)

Babies. They drool, take naps, poop a lot, talk incoherent gibberish, and plot to save the world from puppies! At least in THIS movie, they do. Based on the 2010 kids picture book by Marla Frazee, Dreamworks Animation is up against Warner Bros., who came up with last years hilarious baby-caper movie, Storks. Do I sense a trend here?

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In an alternate universe (like Storks, I guess) babies are dropped out of the sky and delivered from the ethereal BabyCorp, a heavenly business that produces great babies and even greater executive babies to call the shots. Just as long as they drink their ‘magic formula’ to stay a baby, they’ll be fine. But there’s a hiccup at BabyCorp and Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin) is called up… er, down to fix a serious problem. He’s just been ‘born’ (he arrives via taxi in a black suit and briefcase) to parents, Ted and Janice Templeton (Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow). They’re ecstatic about their new baby (they never name him. Odd.), but not their 7 1/2 year-old son, Tim (Miles Christopher Bakshi–grandson of animation legend, Ralph Bakshi).

Tim, who’s got an over-active imagination (he conjures up wild scenario’s and thinks his wizard talking alarm clock speaks to him like a goofy Gandalf), imagines this baby’s up to no good, especially after he overhears him talking on a toy phone! After a very funny meeting with his fellow BabyCorp babies and a subsequent crazy chase, Boss Baby comes clean to Tim: BabyCorp (in fact, all babies) are in trouble! It looks like puppies are taking over the love quotient normally given to babies! Oh no! AND giant PuppyCo, a company that Tim’s parents conveniently work at, have a secret ‘puppy weapon’ that will wipe out BabyCorp if launched.

Boss Baby and Tim go through the usual shenanigans as brothers having sibling rivalry, but on a more epic scale. Tim (speaking more like a teenager) can’t grasp the lightning- fast corporate jargon that his baby brother is rattling off and tries to get him ‘fired’ from his company at any cost. But once a Matrix-like pacifier exchange happens (another funny scene), he’s on board with Boss Baby to save his company. The third act, while forced and little long-winded, has Boss Baby and Tim on a wild mission to save Mom & Dad from the evil clutches of Francis E. Francis (Steve Buscemi), the looney CEO of PuppyCo.

The screenplay, loaded with pop-culture gags and very clever one-liners, is by Michael McCullers, who gave us the equally hilarious Undercover Brother, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and Mr. Peabody & Sherman. Sure, the plot is simple and for the kids (lotsa butt jokes), but the dialogue is rich with delicious lines that adults will chuckle at. Alec Baldwin, whose voice here is reminiscent of Blake’s, “Coffee’s for closers!” line from Glengarry GlenRoss, channels ‘Blake-lite’ with terrific results. Bakshi, who has a slight lisp, is perfect as Tim, and Buscemi is just great as the out-there villain.

Director Tom McGrath (MegaMind, the Madagascar films) plays his animation like a symphony virtuoso; his super-quick direction is everywhere with slo-mo, rapid smash- cuts, wicked cut-aways and pull-aways that defines his style. Just look at the facial mugging the characters use to convey emotions; it’s rarely used and put to great effect. Like a Margaret Keane painting, all the characters have HUGE eyes and slightly over- sized heads that add to the surreal settings. If you saw MegaMind, you know what I mean

Plus, the Beatles song, Blackbird, is a running theme throughout the movie and, being a Beatlemaniac, that was just fine with me! Sure you gotta look past the impossibly obvious plot holes and the many continuity errors (the pizza slices keep rearranging on dad’s lap), but you can’t help from LOL-ing from this kids movie that invites the adults in for a good time. Check out the “Gandalf” voice on Tim’s alarm clock, it’s James McGrath (Tom’s nephew) and a dead-ringer for Sir Ian McKellen.                

Baby Geniuses (1999)
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Question: what do you get if you have a script SO bad and direction SO awful that the only way to sell it is to pay a bunch of noted actors a spit-load of money to be in it? Answer: THIS film!

Look at this cast! Christopher Lloyd, Kim Cattrall, Kathleen Turner, Peter MacNichol, Dom Deluise, and Ruby Dee. Great actors in their own right paid to be in this horrible movie that ranks right up there as being one of the worst pictures ever made. Bob Clark, who gave us the hilarious Porky’s and the perennial holiday favorite, A Christmas Story, wrote and directed this piece of junk for God knows why. Maybe he lost a bet?

Dr. Elena Kinder (Turner) and Dr. Heep (Lloyd) are scientists using captive orphaned genius-babies (they’re actually toddlers) to fund BabyCo’s weird theme park called “Joyworld”. Dr. Kinder’s research says that toddlers are born possessing vast knowledge and speak a secret baby pre-language called Babytalk, but lose it all at age 2–3. Bummer. One mischievous toddler, Sly (half of a separated twin), makes repeated attempts to escape Dr. Kinder’s research facility and does one night by using the Annie method: he hides in a dirty laundry hamper.

On the run, this little kid finds his long-lost ‘normal’ twin brother, Whit, in a mall playground. My, what a coincidence! But while the research facility goons grab Whit thinking it’s Sly, Whit’s adopted mother, Robin Bobbin (Cattrall) takes Sly home, thinking it’s hers. After Dr. Kinder is shocked that Whit and Sly have switched places, she decides to get Sly back to her research facility anyway she can. Meanwhile, other babies at the Bobbin’s place hypnotize Lenny (DeLuise) the bus driver to drive to Dr. Kinder’s research facility to sick the robots from the theme park on the lab scientists. Yeah, so that happens.

When the Bobbins return home, their natural baby daughter, Carrie, tells her father, Dan (MacNichol) in baby-talk (he actually understands her) that the captive kids are in Dr. Kinder’s research facility. At the end of the BIG fight, Dr. Kinder captures Whit and takes him to the helicopter pad on the roof. Robin and Dan chase them to the roof, where Dr. Kinder reveals that she and Robin are not related. After Dr. Kinder is arrested by the police, and the twins get a new home with the Bobbins. Big deal.

This is one bad movie. Shot on a very low budget, the only interesting thing about this movie was its use of CGI manipulation of the toddlers heads on little people for stunts, and their mouths for when they spoke to each other in English. Then you had Bob Clark shooting this film with a goofy fish-eye lens that distorted the actors faces for (???) comedic effect?

And did I mention the disturbing-looking 12 foot animatronic baby-doll at the theme park? That thing is just plain creepy and would give any child nightmares for a month! Believe it or not, Bob Clark actually made a sequel in 2004 (Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2) and, needless to say, it did WORSE than the original.

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