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Now showing in Hong Kong

Film review: The Boss Baby – Alec Baldwin voices officious infant in animated comedy

Beautiful character design and some lovely forays into the imagination elevate this animated film, but it isn’t as incisive as it might have been

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 April, 2017, 6:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 February, 2018, 4:38pm

3/5 stars

Although it doesn’t match the lunatic heights of Sausage Party or the thoughtful wit of Zootopia , this animated movie is certainly not short on imagination. A bizarre storyline about a feud, and then friendship, between a young boy and his business-minded baby brother features some fascinating-looking sequences, and some cheerful sarcasm. Children won’t know why their parents are laughing half the time, but everyone will find something to enjoy.

Directed by Tom McGrath of Megamind and Madagascar fame, The Boss Baby’s big idea is to act as a metaphor for the feelings of confusion and resentment a child can feel when a new baby joins the family.

Tim (voiced by Miles Bakshi) is a happy young boy who enjoys basking in the attention of his loving parents (talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel and former Friends star Lisa Kudrow). When he’s not listening to his parents serenade him with The Beatles’ folky Blackbird, he’s indulging in amazing flights of the imagination, where he saves them from pirates or enemy agents.

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Then, out of nowhere, a new baby (Alec Baldwin) arrives in a taxicab and joins the family, and the new arrival is suddenly getting all the attention. A jealous Tim, wondering why mum and dad haven’t commented on the baby’s briefcase and officious manner, plots to get rid of him. But when the baby reveals a secret mission to Tim, the boy makes a deal. He’ll help the Boss Baby achieve his aims if he leaves the family afterwards.

Animation fans will find plenty to like. The character design is excellent, featuring oddities like a group of tiny hazmat-suited creatures who expunge the memories of babies from parents when necessary. Tim’s forays into his imaginary world, notably an underwater adventure, a pirate scene and an Elvis impersonators’ convention, may aim for excess, but are well conceived and beautifully designed. The occasional use of a 1950s geometric style of illustration is an extra-nice touch.

Baldwin brings some stern wit to the character of the Boss Baby, but the visuals steal the show. The main problem is that the film has to appeal to young children as well as older siblings and parents, so it couldn’t be as incisive as it should have been.

The Boss Baby opens on April 13

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