Susan Granger’s review of “The Boss Baby” (20th Century Fox/DreamWorks Animation)
Somewhere in the clouds above, Baby Corp. runs an adorable newborn assembly line, where babies are manufactured and families formed.
That’s according to the overactive imagination of seven year-old Tim Templeton (voiced by Miles Christopher Bakshi), who is totally content as the only child of doting parents (voiced by Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow) who read him endless bedtime stories and sing the Beatles’ tune “Blackbird” as his lullaby.
But then Tim’s perfect little world is disrupted by the arrival of a baby brother named Theodore. In Tim’s mind, the demanding infant is a tiny tyrant, dispatched by Management, arriving in a business suit, wearing a Rolex and carrying a briefcase. And he can talk.
Theodore manages to remain infantile by gulping a magic formula and sucking on a psychedelic pacifier. “One thing was clear,” now-grown Tim (voiced by Tobey Maguire) recalls. “He was the boss.”
When his cohorts arrive in the guise of a ‘play date,’ which is actually a business meeting, the titular tot explains that, since their parents both work at Puppy Co, they need to infiltrate the company to eliminate the inherent threat of its newest product: an adorable Forever Puppy that will never grow up.
Based on Marla Frazee’s charming 36-page picture book, it’s adapted by screenwriter Michael McCullers (“Austin Powers” sequels) and director Tom McGrath (“Madagascar” trilogy), delving into competitiveness and jealousy.
Oddly enough, its high-concept is aimed at grown-ups, not children, particularly casting Alec Baldwin whose distinctive voice evokes memories of “30 Rock” and his “Saturday Night Live” caricature of Donald Trump.
Among the many pop culture references, there’s a running gag about “Lord of the Rings” Wizard Gandalf, embodied in Tim’s Wizzie alarm clock, and the line “Cookies are for closers,” referencing Alec Baldwin’s seminal scene in “Glengarry Glen Ross.”
FYI: Young Miles Christopher Bakshi is a grandson of pioneer “Fritz the Cat” animator Ralph Bakshi.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Boss Baby” is an intermittently funny 5, skewering sibling rivalry.