In his latest film, Alec Baldwin provides the voice for a self-centered egomaniac who lies about his true intentions and cries when he doesn’t get his way.
The animated comedy The Boss Baby isn’t based on a “Saturday Night Live” skit, but rather on a popular children’s book. And amid its hyperactive visuals, it finds the right balance of jokes that are appropriate for children yet charming for adults.
The story is told from the perspective of 7-year-old Tim (voiced by Miles Bakshi), an only child who’s not clamoring for a baby brother, especially one wearing a suit and tie, and speaking in a condescending tone toward his new sibling.
The new baby earns the indiscriminate affection of his parents, but Tim is more suspicious, eventually learning that the precocious newcomer is working undercover for a company known as Babycorp, and his mission is to infiltrate a family to help stop rival Puppyco from stealing the attention of infants everywhere.
In order to fight corporations right and left through a sort-of espionage adventure, Tim and Boss Baby — who remains otherwise nameless — must put aside their differences and form a sibling bond.
The film is directed by animation veteran Tom McGrath (Madagascar), who keeps the pace lively and creates a whimsical world of wide-eyed babies without overdoing on cuteness — an obvious temptation given the material. However, the adorable opening-credits sequence provides a highlight, showcasing the exaggerated character features yielded by the film’s animation style.
The screenplay by Michael McCullers (Baby Mama) pays tribute to childhood innocence and the power of imagination while indulging in a heartfelt exploration of sibling rivalries along with the impact of shifting family dynamics on children and parents alike.
The amusing combination of one-liners and sight gags is bolstered by terrific voice work from Baldwin and an ensemble that includes Steve Buscemi, Tobey Maguire, Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmel.
The final act bogs down in some convoluted plot mechanics that detract from the sense of lighthearted fun that precedes it. Plus, it’s hardly a surprise how everything will turn out in the end. Yet there’s a poignancy that conveys a sense of playful mischief, and provides a calm alongside the clutter.
Rated PG, 97 minutes.