The Boss Baby
A baby wearing a business suit
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTom McGrath
Written byMichael McCullers
Based onThe Boss Baby
by Marla Frazee
Produced byRamsey Ann Naito
Starring
Edited byJames Ryan
Music by
Production
company
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • March 12, 2017 (2017-03-12) (Miami)
  • March 31, 2017 (2017-03-31) (United States)
Running time
97 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$125 million[2]
Box office$528 million[3]

The Boss Baby is a 2017 American animated comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Loosely based on the 2010 picture book of the same name by Marla Frazee,[4] it was directed by Tom McGrath from a screenplay by Michael McCullers, and stars the voices of Alec Baldwin as the title character, along with Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Miles Bakshi, and Tobey Maguire. The first installment in The Boss Baby franchise, the plot follows a boy helping his baby brother who is a secret agent in the war for adults' love between babies and puppies.

The Boss Baby premiered at the Miami International Film Festival on March 12, 2017, and was released in the United States on March 31.[5] The film received mixed reviews from critics upon release, who praised its animation and voice performances but criticized the complicated plot, the pacing, and humor. It grossed $528 million worldwide against its $125 million budget. The film received Best Animated Feature nominations at the Academy Awards, Annie Awards, and Golden Globes.

A Netflix television series, The Boss Baby: Back in Business, premiered on April 6, 2018, while a sequel film, The Boss Baby: Family Business, was released in theaters and on Peacock on July 2, 2021. Another Netflix television series, The Boss Baby: Back in the Crib, premiered on May 19, 2022.

Plot

In the late 1970s, Tim Templeton, a creative 7-year-old, is taken aback when his new baby brother, Boss Baby, arrives. Baby wears a suit and tie and acts like a normal baby around adults, but acts like an adult when adults are absent. One day, Baby holds a staff meeting with other infants, under the guise of a neighborhood play date. Tim attempts to record them on a tape before Baby and his cronies spot and chase him, resulting in it being destroyed. Due to the resulting chaos, Tim is grounded until he learns to get along with Baby.

Later, Baby reveals the truth as to why he is in his house and where he comes from. He and Tim suck a special pacifier that allows them to see Baby Corp, where babies come from. Most babies go to families, but those unresponsive to tickling are sent to management, where they are given a special baby formula that allows them to think and behave as adults while remaining young forever. Baby explains he is on a special mission to investigate the declining love for babies due to puppies, and came to the Templetons as Tim's parents work for Puppy Co. Once his mission is done, he will leave. However, the boys hear Baby's boss threatening to fire him if he fails, which would mean Baby would have to stay and grow up with the Templeton family. Tim and Baby team up to prevent this.

On Take Your Kid to Work Day, the parents take Tim and Baby with them to Puppy Co. While investigating, they are caught by Francis Francis, who used to be the CEO of Baby Corp but got fired due to aging from lactose intolerance. He takes Baby's formula to create a "Forever Puppy" incapable of aging, which will take all love from babies and give him his revenge on BabyCorp.

Francis takes Tim's parents to a Las Vegas conference and leaves his brother Eugene to pose as a female nanny to watch the children. The boys attack Eugene with fake vomit and escape him with the help of neighborhood toddlers. They reach Las Vegas, where they find Francis ready to launch a rocket of Forever Puppies out into the world. Tim's parents are trapped below the rocket to be burned. Tim and Baby fight Francis on a catwalk, making him fall into a vat of formula that turns him back into a baby, and Eugene takes him home. Tim and Baby save Tim's parents and eject the Forever Puppies from the rocket before it launches.

Baby goes back to Baby Corp and becomes CEO. BabyCorp workers erase evidence of Baby and the parents' memories of him. One of these workers asks Tim if he would like to forget about Baby, but he declines. Tim and Baby soon realize they miss each other deeply, and Tim invites him back, saying that he can have all of his parents love. Baby returns as a regular baby named Theodore "Ted" Templeton, realizing love is something that grows, instead of being divided.

Years later, in the present day, an adult Tim and Ted tell the story to Tim's eldest daughter, who is apprehensive about the arrival of her newborn baby sister. After the adults leave, the newborn girl reveals she is a Boss Baby, too, surprising the elder daughter.

Cast

Alec Baldwin promoting the film at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con.

Production

Upon reading the original book on which the film is based McGrath felt a connection to it, as he had an older brother and felt like "the boss baby of the family".[10] In keeping with that theme he stated, in an interview with Den of Geek, that "My personal goal with this was to watch this movie with my brother, and to see how it affected him!", which resulted in McGrath's brother being moved to tears by the completed film.[11]

The look of the film was inspired by design techniques popularized in the 1960s,[12] as well as animated films from both the 1950s and 1960s.[10] This was due to McGrath's belief that contemporary animated films focused too much on realism. To help his staff McGrath would play the opening scene of Lady and the Tramp (1955) for new hires specifically noting that the film "should be easy on the eyes and really lead your eye to what's important in the shot.[12]

Director Tom McGrath at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con

In September 2014, Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey joined the cast of the film,[4] with further casting news announced in June 2016, including Steve Buscemi replacing Spacey.[13]

Miles Bakshi, son of the DreamWorks Animation's producer Gina Shay and grandson of the film director Ralph Bakshi, known for directing animated films such as Fritz the Cat, provided the voice of 7-year old Tim. Having been often present at DreamWorks, McGrath initially asked Bakshi only to provide a temporary voice for Tim to see if the character "worked". The producers listened to 30 to 40 children to choose the scratch voice. McGrath explained their decision: "No one sounded as authentic as Miles did. A lot of child actors are great, but they are over-articulate for their age. Miles was just natural and charming. He had a little slur to his voice at the time and it was very endearing." Three years later, Miles was told that he got the part.[14] Bakshi was 10 when he began recording the voice. During the long process, his voice started to change and "by the end it got pretty tough", according to Bakshi, who was 14 when the film was released. He had to get his voice "very soft, but when I got that perfect tone it was great."

Music

The film was scored by Hans Zimmer and Steve Mazzaro, Jacob Collier, and various artists. It marks as Zimmer's fifth collaboration with Tom McGrath after the Madagascar trilogy (2005–2012) and Megamind (2010), and his 12th overall film he scored for DreamWorks Animation, which includes The Prince of Egypt (1998), The Road to El Dorado (2000), Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002), Shark Tale (2004), and the first three Kung Fu Panda films (2008–2016). The film's soundtrack was released on Back Lot Music & iTunes. "Blackbird" by The Beatles is used as part of the plot at various points throughout the film.[15] During the end credits, Missi Hale recorded a cover of the Burt Bacharach song "What the World Needs Now Is Love" (first performed by Jackie DeShannon). "My House" by Flo Rida is also used in the trailer for the film.

Release

Theatrical

The Boss Baby was initially scheduled for release on March 18, 2016,[16] but was later pushed back to March 31, 2017.[17] The film premiered at the Miami Film Festival on March 12, 2017,[18][19] and was released in the United States on March 31, 2017, by 20th Century Fox.[5] The film was later released in Japan on March 21, 2018 by DreamWorks Animation's sister company Universal Pictures. The Japanese release is accompanied by the DreamWorks animated short Bird Karma.[20]

Home media

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released The Boss Baby for digital download on July 4, 2017, and on DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and Ultra HD Blu-ray on July 25. Physical copies contain a short film, The Boss Baby and Tim's Treasure Hunt Through Time.[21] From November 2017 to May 2019, the film was available on Netflix, and the film returned to the streaming platform after 4 years on May 22, 2023.

Reception

Box office

The Boss Baby grossed $175 million in the United States and Canada and $353 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $528 million.[3]

The film was released with Ghost in the Shell and The Zookeeper's Wife on March 31, 2017. The Boss Baby grossed $15.5 million on its first day,[22] including $1.5 million from Thursday night previews.[23] The film then earned $50 million from 3,773 theaters during its opening weekend.[24] Its second weekend earnings dropped by 47% to $26.3 million,[25] and followed by another $15.9 million the third weekend.[26] The Boss Baby completed its theatrical run in the United States and Canada on November 2, 2017.[27]

Critical response

The Boss Baby has an approval rating of 53% based on 180 professional reviews on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 5.5/10. Its critical consensus reads, "The Boss Baby's talented cast, glimmers of wit, and flashes of visual inventiveness can't make up for a thin premise and a disappointing willingness to settle for doody jokes."[28] Metacritic (which uses a weighted average) assigned The Boss Baby a score of 50 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[29] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[24]

Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times praised Baldwin and the adult humor, saying: "The contrast between the helpless-infant stage of life and corporate-speak is funny but fairly high-concept for a kiddie movie, and the plot grows denser as it goes along and the baby and Tim reluctantly join forces to stop a conspiracy by which puppies would corner all the love in the world."[30]

Accolades

Accolades received by The Boss Baby
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards March 4, 2018 Best Animated Feature Tom McGrath and Ramsey Ann Naito Nominated [31]
Annie Awards February 3, 2018 Best Animated Feature The Boss Baby Nominated [32]
Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in a Feature Production Bryce McGovern Nominated
Rani Naamani Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Character Design in a Feature Production Joe Moshier Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production Tom McGrath Nominated
Outstanding Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Glenn Harmon Nominated
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards December 23, 2017 Best Animated Film The Boss Baby Nominated [33]
Golden Globe Awards January 7, 2018 Best Animated Feature Film The Boss Baby Nominated [34]
Golden Trailer Awards June 6, 2017 Best Original Score TV Spot (for a Feature Film) "Boss Boss Baby" (The Refinery) Nominated [35]
[36]
Hollywood Music in Media Awards November 17, 2017 Best Original Score in an Animated Film Hans Zimmer and Steve Mazzaro Nominated [37]
Movieguide Awards February 2, 2018 Best Movies for Families The Boss Baby Won [38]
[39]
Producers Guild of America Awards January 20, 2018 Best Animated Motion Picture Ramsey Ann Naito Nominated [40]
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards December 11, 2017 Best Animated Film The Boss Baby Nominated [33]
Satellite Awards February 10, 2018 Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature The Boss Baby Nominated [41]
[42]
Saturn Awards June 27, 2018 Best Animated Film The Boss Baby Nominated [43]
[44]
Visual Effects Society Awards February 13, 2018 Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Alec Baldwin, Carlos Puertolas, Rani Naamani, and Joe Moshier for "Boss Baby" Nominated [45]
Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Animated Feature Mitul Patel, Gaurav Mathus, and Venkatesh Kongathi Nominated

Academic scholarship

In 2021, interest in the original film was renewed when a philosophical symposium dedicated to the film was announced.[46] While widely believed to be a prank at first, organizers Jaime McCaffrey and Tore Levander insisted this was not that case. Responding to the early criticism, McCaffrey stated to The A. V. Club that "Its messaging, the way that it tries to convey ideas, you almost can't discern what the position of the movie is. And all the artistic decisions in the movie seem to be conflict with each other in such a way that as a viewer you are like ‘I don't know what I'm supposed to feel and therefore I must analyze.'"[47]

The first conference was done virtually and featured speakers from Northeastern University, Middlesex University, the University of York, Cambridge University, and a medical doctor from the University of California Riverside.[48] JP Karliak, the TV show's voice actor, and Brandon Sawyer, writer and executive producer of The Boss Baby: Back in Business, both spoke at the event. The "Second First Annual" conference was hosted in January 2023.

Franchise

Main article: The Boss Baby (franchise)

Sequel

Main article: The Boss Baby: Family Business

On May 25, 2017, Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Animation announced a sequel, which was released on July 2, 2021, with Alec Baldwin reprising his role.[49][50] On May 17, 2019, it was announced that Tom McGrath will return as director and Jeff Hermann, who produced Bilby, Bird Karma, and Marooned, will produce the sequel. Hans Zimmer and Steve Mazzaro returned to write the music for the film.[51]

Television series

Main article: The Boss Baby: Back in Business

On December 12, 2017, both Netflix and DreamWorks Animation announced the release of the TV series based on the film. The Boss Baby: Back in Business was released in 2018.[52]

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