Go see ‘The Boss Baby’ if you haven’t

It really is a shame that it was Dreamworks and not Pixar that ended up making this extended play sequence of a movie — the superior studio’s fabled attention to detail is sorely missed. Image courtesy 20th Century Fox.

8/10 Remember Ghost in the Shell? Just three weeks later, it’s probably slipped everyone’s mind, but it was a pretty big deal to Sony. They were real proud of that movie, and thought it was going to be a bit of a gravy train.

It face-planted over its March 31 debut to the tune of just $18.7 million. The $110 million movie has made just $37.1 million over three weeks, and has already been dropped by more than 1,300 theaters.

But that wasn’t the only shocker of the weekend. Expected to finish behind Beauty and the Beast, the unheralded Boss Baby came out of nowhere to score a $50.2 million opening and retain the no. 1 spot until Fate of the Furious came out. It’s brought in $116.8 million to date.

So, is this surprise heavyweight any good?

Yes. It’s amazing.

Tim Templeton (Miles Christopher Bakshi, Tobey Maguire as an adult) has spent the first seven years of his life as an only child, basking in the entirety of his parents’ (Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow) attention. But trouble arrives in the form of a younger brother — not just any younger brother, but the boss baby (Alec Baldwin). An infant with the mind of an upwardly mobile executive, the boss baby is a secret agent in the war for affection between babies and puppies. Templeton must help his loathed brother complete his mission, or else be forced to grow up with him.

Remember the opening sequence of Toy Story 3? The one they should have made an entire movie out of?

The Boss Baby is that movie! The story is framed as an adult Templeton’s memory of his brother’s arrival, and the character is introduced as having a wildly overactive imagination. This is the animated movie made up entirely of a child’s playtime imagination, the one that pushes the boundaries of what can be done with such a free art form.

A common complaint about movies is that in a world where anything you can imagine can be animated, the only things that hit the big screen seem to be things that should have been made practically or giant teal-and-orange robots. The Boss Baby is the answer to that claim.

Despite existing on such an expansive canvas, it still manages to be a pointed, tight, 98-minute narrative. The Boss Baby is a much stronger movie mechanically than is normally made for children. There’s no fat to trim here. Scenes build on each other with a grace that escapes most movies.

No matter how low-brow it is — anyone who thinks they’re above poop jokes has 20 years of South Park to catch up on — the strong narrative and surprisingly bitter humor keep everything compelling.

While word of mouth has done The Boss Baby a ton of favors, its stellar opening points to a deft multimedia marketing strategy. The movie grabbed headlines a week before its release by running this tailored ad ahead of Beauty and the Beast screenings, and it also leaned on Kimmel’s talkshow and the peaking popularity of its star, Baldwin, for promotion. His ongoing Trump impression shouldn’t be underestimated as a booster seat for his already storied career.

Calling a movie “fun for all ages” brings to mind schizophrenic hours of cartoon rabbits for the kids, steamy romance for the ladies and adults-only puns for the parents, and that’s not what The Boss Baby is at all. It’s a tight, elegant movie that happens to be kid-friendly.

Leopold Knopp is a professional film critic, licensed massage therapist, syndicated columnist at the Lewisville Texan Journal and journalism student at the University of North Texas. Like Reel Entropy on Facebook, follow it on Twitter @reelentropy, and shoot questions to reelentropy@gmail.com.

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