Like a Boss

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I wasn’t originally planning on writing this review. The movie didn’t peak my interest enough to warrant buying a theater ticket and didn’t deserve my time when the holidays came around. However, at the time of writing this review, Boss Baby has been nominated for an Oscar in Best Animated Feature.

A movie.

About a baby in a suit.

Has been nominated for the Best Animated Feature of 2017.

To put that in perspective, the other nominees are: Ferdinand, based on a book and comes from the studio, Blue Sky. The Breadwinner, also based on a book, from the studio, Cartoon Saloon. Loving Vincent, a beautiful and literal masterpiece from Breakthrough Films, and Coco by Pixar studios.

The criteria for what makes a movie a candidate for “Best of the Year” is seemingly complicated. Unlike the name suggests, “Best Animated Feature” doesn’t just refer to the best animation, or soundtrack, or story, it refers to the whole film. To be nominated, boards of people have to vote on what gets through and what doesn’t, seemingly taking into account how the movie was received by the public, produced, and its overall theme.

For example, Loving Vincent is the world’s first movie done using paintings. It may not sound impressive until you consider those aren’t just Crayola watercolors, but oil paintings, done through rotoscoping, an animation process where real people are filmed or photographed, then digitalized on a computer, or in this case, painted, into film form. This was a project done with love, with a team of passion behind it, in a 6-year time frame.

But praising the movie on animation alone would be wholly unfair. This category looks at all aspects of a film and takes into consideration multiple criteria. Which is why I am so confused as to how Boss Baby received a nomination.

To be fair, Boss Baby is not as bad a movie as I feared it would be. To the contrary, it tells a coherent, cute, story that held my attention for a while. The animation is nice, as expected from DreamWorks Studios, with the movie doing some interesting things with scene changes and the imagination of the main protagonist, Tim.

The plot is as bland as I expected, featuring a typical ‘my life is ruined because this new element/person/thing has changed/been added and now I’m not getting enough love/attention from my parents/owner/higher power.’ It doesn’t hit the same beats as Emoji Movie but it never quite reaches a level of interesting like Inside Out.

Boss Baby also reaches a level of strange that even adults were confused about. The trailer alludes that what Tim and Boss Baby (yes, the name he goes by for most of the film) see and experience, is radically different than what their parents see.

A funny concept, until the last half of the movie.

It seems they abandon the idea of separating these worlds, and go all in on the line of reality and imagination. It gets so blurred, that I honestly could not tell you what actually happened. One could assume the whole movie was just Tim’s way of dealing with a new baby in the house, who is literally bossing his parents around, but they play the crazy scenarios so straight, it’s difficult to figure out.

Without spoiling too much, the movie does have its moments. They push the envelope on adult jokes in the film, resulting in some genuinely funny scenes, and though they do fall into a trope so used and beaten I could see it coming a mile away, they actually don’t use a trope I thought they would. Tim basically has to make a decision, and when you see the scene (if you watch the movie) you’ll know it.

So the movie isn’t bad, but it’s not what I would call Oscar Worthy. To be honest, Ferdinand isn’t something I’d consider worth a nomination, and I loved that book as a kid. However, one can’t get too upset. The nominations, though an honor, are just nominations—the award system has always been a little off, so we can only assign so much status to them.

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