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Alec Baldwin Puts the Funny in ‘The Boss Baby’

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CHICAGO – The young Alec Baldwin (think “Prelude to a Kiss”) never seemed as prevalent as the today’s Alec Baldwin. Taking his “30 Rock” persona to a different level, he voices the title character of ‘The Boss Baby,” the latest from Dreamworks Animation and director Tom McGrath.

The film works well on a couple levels – as a warm story on family dynamics when a new baby comes into a sibling’s territory, and as a hilarious satire on American business, especially during the 1960s Mad-Men era. Baldwin’s interpretation of Michael McCullers screenplay adaptation (of a children’s book by Marla Frazee) is the highlight of a conventional we-gotta-save-the-world type story. Riffing on crass businessmen is a Baldwin specialty, and he takes the Boss Baby and lifts it to a height where the mere presence of the character elicits laughs. Director Tom McGrath (“Madagascar” series, “Megamind”) uses a familiar animation style from the past to create awe inspiring, giggly production designs that are reminders of “The Apartment,” “Network” and “How to Suceed in Business Without Really Trying.” That sophisticated look, along with Baldwin, is what puts this animated film above and beyond.

Seven-year-old Tim (voice of Miles Bakshi) has got it made. As the only child of his parents (Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow) he has all of there love and attention, while indulging in his deep imaginative world. This is shattered when his baby brother (Alec Baldwin) is introduced to him, and immediately sucks up all the attention in the household.

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Alec Baldwin is the Voice of ‘The Boss Baby,’ Directed by Tom McGrath
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

Tim discovers that this “Boss Baby” (as the brother likes to call himself) has an adult voice and an odd little business suit that he wears (“isn’t it cute,” coos the proud parents). Tim finds out that the baby’s mission is to infiltrate PuppyCo and their CEO Francis Francis (Steve Buscemi), so that cute puppies won’t overtake the Baby Factory for human’s attentions. Tim and the BB are adversaries at first, but team up to accomplish the mission.

The plot alone is bizarre enough to make jokes pretty easy and funny. Alec Baldwin affects his Jack-Donaughy-from-30-Rock delivery, but tempers it with baby talk and gestures. The Baby Factory versus PuppyCo rivalry is weirdly laugh-inducing as well, especially Steve Buscemi’s over-the-top delivery as Francis Francis (which recalls Major Major from “Catch-22”). Throw in the retro look that director McGrath stylizes, and a serious guffaw bomb is detonated.

Michael McCullers’ script – which deviates from Marla Frazee’s original children’s book – throws in all those business terms like synergy, data, who-moved-my-cheese and other bromides that make commerce so surreal. Particularly funny is when the Boss Baby takes a roll of money from his pocket and advises the recipient to buy something for themselves, while flipping the bills in the air. Add Baldwin’s dismissive businessman nature to that and it kills.

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The Title Character Papers His World in ‘The Boss Baby’
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

The concessions to the kid audience is what narrows – just a bit – the vision of what it could have been. The plotting is standard, and some of the jokes are aimed at the younger set. But this is one of those rare animated films aimed at kids that won’t have their parents rolling their eyes down the aisle, especially if they work in a business drone factory themselves. Tim McGrath knows not only how to structure an animated film, but he also knows how to generate laughs.

The movie also follows through on the sentiment, and the emotions surrounding the infiltration of another brother or sister into the “perfect” parent/onlychild universe. Anyone who has gone through that will get a stab of recognition, good or bad. We may not choose our siblings, but eventually they affect who we are and where we’ve been, as much if not more than anything else.

For an interview with director Tom McGrath of “The Boss Baby,” by Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com, CLICK HERE.

“The Boss Baby” opens everywhere in 3D and regular screenings on March 31st. See local listings for 3D theaters and show times. Featuring the voices of Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Lisa Kudrow, Jimmy Kimmel, Miles Bakshi and Tobey Maguire. Screenplay adapted by Michael McCullers. Directed by Tom McGrath. Rated “PG

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Writer, Editorial Coordinator
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2017 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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