Babies, for all their cuteness, joyful squeals and wonderful-smelling heads, are basically jerks.
It’s even worse if you’re a big brother or big sister, dislodged from the center of the universe by a tiny being who doesn’t have the sense to not pee in his bath water.
“The Boss Baby” understands this well. And when it sticks to the core concept, the new entry from DreamWorks Animation is satisfying. But there are distracting side plots — and side plots to the side plots — that sabotage much of what’s enjoyable about the movie.
In infant-care terms, this is a colicky film.
Alec Baldwin voices the baby, who upon his arrival is running the Templeton family like a company president. Director Tom McGrath wisely plays up Baldwin’s “Glengarry Glen Ross” connection, with the fast-talking baby announcing that “cookies are for closers.”
Older brother Tim (Miles Bakshi) is the only one who can hear the baby talk, and they develop a sibling rivalry. Each brother has a selfish agenda, trying to convince his oblivious parents (Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmel) that the other needs to go.
With a strong director and capable writing, this should have been a sure thing. But the writers complicate things with a war between infants and puppies, a secret new breed of dog and an unnecessary save-the-world plot. With each baby step away from the domestic story of the Templeton family, “The Boss Baby” loses its way.
There are charming moments. The parents’ blindness to Boss Baby’s corporate attitude plays well to McGrath’s skill with comic timing. There’s a movie’s worth of humor to be mined from the ruthless capability of something so cute and cuddly.
Alas, we must detour to Puppy Co., an excuse to add cute animals and complicated motivations to the movie while sabotaging the pacing. The second half is a big heist-and-chase scene that piles on unnecessary tangents and struggles to find humor.
“The Boss Baby”
Rated PG for some mild rude humor. 1:37. 2D and 3D: Fayette Mall, Frankfort, Hamburg, Nicholasville, Richmond. 2D only: Georgetown, Winchester.