Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Boss Baby Review

From the studio that brought you "Shrek," "How to Train Your Dragon," "Kung Fu Panda" and "Megamind" now gives us... "The Boss Baby"? Oh man. What in the world has happened to DreamWorks Animation? OK, in fairness, DreamWorks has never really been on Pixar level when it comes to animation. Yeah, they've made some phenomenal movies like the ones I've mentioned, but they've never been consistent. I mean, they started out with "Antz" and scattered between their great movies are movies like "Shark Tale," "Flushed Away," "Bee Movie," the endless amounts of sequels in the "Madagascar" and "Shrek" franchises as well as nearly everything they've done in the last five years with a few minor exceptions. So them making a bad movie is nothing too surprising. But they've hit a new all-time low here with "The Boss Baby." Never have I watched a trailer for a DreamWorks movie and thought it looked like absolute trash. Never have I walked up to the ticket booth at a theater and been embarrassed to ask for a ticket to a DreamWorks movie. Rarely have I ever sat through a DreamWorks while writhing in pain, hoping it would end and put me out of my misery. Some are saying it isn't as bad as it looks. Unfortunately I'm saying it is. In fact, I really hated this movie.

Being perfectly honest, I almost skipped this movie. It didn't look bad enough to make it on my end of year worst list, but it didn't look good enough for me to care. And projections heading into the weekend had flop written all over it. Had it actually flopped, it would've signified that no one actually did care and thus rushing out to see it to get a review out didn't seem like a top priority. I would've probably seen it eventually because I'm planning on ranking the DreamWorks movies much like I did with Pixar and Disney, but that would've been on a random night a few months down the road when I had nothing better to do with my life. But no, even though projections had started to warm up heading into the weekend, people were still saying $30-35 million, making for a second or even third place finish. Yet it shocks the world by getting $50.2, dethroning "Beauty in the Beast" for the No. 1 spot at the box office? What in the frack? I guess we should've seen this coming. Fellow DreamWorks movie "Home" did practically the same thing two years ago as it came out of nowhere to earn $52.1 million. But at least "Home" was somewhat entertaining, even though I mostly forget it exists until I look at a list of DreamWorks movies. "The Boss Baby," though, I don't understand the appeal.

The plot of this movie is a weird combination of "Baby Geniuses" and "Toy Story." And if that's not strange enough, halfway through it feels like a group of 7-year-old boys took over and finished the screenplay for DreamWorks. For some reason, DreamWorks looked at that script and decided it was up to their new standard of quality and threw it in theaters. Then those same 7-year-old boys conned DreamWorks into turning "Captain Underpants" into a movie, but we'll get to that one in a couple of months. I actually was obsessed with those books when I was in Elementary School, so we'll how that turns out. But back to "The Boss Baby," if you've never seen or heard of "Baby Geniuses," I don't really recommend you fix that. It's a dumb movie from 1999 focused around a group of babies who are secretly super smart without their parents realizing it. For some reason it spawned a sequel and that sequel is currently No. 3 on IMDb's list of WORST movies of all time, behind only "Code Name: K.O.Z." and "Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas." That's the quality of film that we're replicating here. Sure, talking babies have been done before and done well, but our baby in "The Boss Baby" certainly isn't one of them. This baby was just super annoying and I wanted it to go away.

In terms of plot specifics, Tim is an only child whose parents give him all the attention in the world and he really loves it. Then one night they ask him, "How would you like a younger brother?" To which he replies, "Nope, I'm good." But then he starts to think, "Where do babies really come from?" A question that no parent is excited to answer. And of course, every kids movie that tries to answer this question does so in a super cliché way that they think is super clever, but is super not. In this iteration of that cliché, babies come from a factory called Baby Corp where they are sorted into family-ready babies or business-ready babies. The family-ready babies go down a fancy slide and are delivered by Baby Corp in a taxi cab? I think? Meanwhile the business babies are sent to baby business school where they have the potential to eventually run or be a part of Baby Corp. If they fail, they are punished by getting sent down to a family while forgetting everything about Baby Corp. Or something like that. The plot is actually kinda confusing and doesn't make sense especially since Tim's mom was visible pregnant, but her baby arrived in a taxi cab wearing a suit? So is all this in Tim's imagination or is it really happening in the world of this movie? I don't actually know.

But Boss Baby isn't here at Tim's house as a punishment. He's here to investigate because according to Baby Corp's statistics, parents are getting more obsessed about having puppies than having babies, so he is here to figure out why that is or else he is going to get fired and turned into a real baby. He and Tim really hate each other. Tim is jealous that Boss Baby is taking all the attention away from him while Boss Baby is leery of Tim because Tim has figured out his secret that he's essentially an adult in a baby's body and Boss Baby doesn't want Tim to tell his parents. So they make an agreement to go investigate Puppy Co. together because then Boss Baby can go back to Baby Corp and Tim can go back to being an only child and they'll be happy. And if you think I've just spoiled this whole movie, I haven't really. Last paragraph was the setup and this paragraph was our premise for the film. I suppose I could've left this premise a surprise, but in order for you to understand why I thought this movie was so dumb, you needed to know what this movie is about because this premise is just retarded. What I've described is just scratching the surface. The second half of this movie goes off the rails. I threw in the towel early and spent much of the film begging for it to end.

I suppose I won't spoil anymore of the movie, but I do need to describe to you the range of emotions that I felt while I was watching as we can split this into three parts. Part one of the movie literally annoyed the crap out of me. All this stuff with Tim and his parents were fine and dandy, but once Boss Baby came into the picture, I just couldn't stand this film. The premise that I described to you is so incredibly stupid that not for one second was I even remotely interested in what was happening. I had zero emotional investment. When Boss Baby came onto the scene, I found him so annoying and unfunny. I had the strongest desire to get up and leave, but I suppressed that urge and dealt with it, which was painful. It was like forcing myself to sit at a dinner table where everyone there has zero manners and are all chewing noisily in my ear. Those were the emotions that I was feeling during this movie. Part of the problem is that the movie relied so heavily on naked baby jokes. I wouldn't call them inappropriate like in "The Angry Birds Movie," they just weren't. But they kept happening. That and all the poop, fart, burp, throw-up jokes that will make your five-year-old laugh, but no one else. I hate it when it movie thinks it's so funny that it keeps using the same jokes, but it's really not.

Once I got through that atrocious first act, the second act was tolerable. But that's about it. The problem here is that it became so by-the-numbers and predictable that I just didn't care. Earlier in this review, I compared it to "Toy Story." In "Toy Story," Woody is the favorite toy who's loved by Andy. Until Andy's birthday comes around and he gets a new Buzz Lightyear. Then Woody becomes forgotten and thus becomes extremely jealous. Woody and Buzz then have their adventures at Pizza Planet and Sid's house and you know that all ends. Well, in "The Boss Baby," Tim is Woody and Boss Baby is Buzz. Boom. I don't need to say anything. Except "Toy Story" is a great movie while "The Boss Baby" is a lazy, annoying rip-off that literally brings nothing new the table. Except for a crazy third act that seemed like it was written by 7-year-olds. Because it certainly didn't seem like it was written by intelligent adults who have spent their entire careers writing movies for kids. The movie went completely off the rockers and somehow also manages to be both extremely confusing and super predictable at the same time. And it gives you the exact cliché ending that you know is going to happen the second you watch the trailer or the second the movie starts playing out.

But now for the question of the day. Will the kids like it? You can listen to the rantings of a 28-year-old adult male such as myself, but that might not be super helpful in determining if your five-year-old will enjoy the movie because they aren't quite as critically harsh as I am. Lucky for you, I ended up in a sold out crowd full of little kids and I paid close attention to their reactions. And while they didn't laugh as hard or long as in other animated movies I've seen, they all seemed to love it. So I don't know what to tell you. If you are willing to sit through and endure one of DreamWorks' worst movies to date in order to give your kids a good time at the theaters, then go for it. Just know that there are actually a ton of animated movies this summer that you and the kids might enjoy. So I'd say be patient and save your money now for a more enjoyable experience later. Buy "The Boss Baby" on DVD and let your kids enjoy it on their own so that you don't have to suffer through it. That's what I'd recommend. But it's up to you. If you aren't a parent with young kids, then this recommendation is a lot easier. Skip this one. It's not worth your time or money. It's a lazy, painful, confusing, predictable piece of trash that belongs in the garbage can. Epic fail for DreamWorks. I'm giving "The Boss Baby" a 5/10.

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