In one of his funniest roles yet, Alec Baldwin voices a hilariously domineering baby with the swagger of a suave entrepreneur and the snarky wit of a first-rate comedian.
Directed by Tom McGrath and produced by Ramsey Ann Naito, “The Boss Baby” visualizes Marla Frazee’s picture book of the same name. The film envisions a new baby’s arrival from the perspective of an imaginative 7-year-old boy named Tim, voiced by Miles Bakshi. Tim forlornly watches his world change as his parents, voiced by Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow, begin paying closer attention to their newborn baby.
Once Tim discovers his brother’s secret mission from Baby Corp. to make the world fall in love with babies, the siblings pair up in a convoluted, whimsical quest to bring more “cuteness” into people’s lives.
When their mission is interrupted by the plans of a sinister villain, voiced by Steve Buscemi, the brothers begin to see themselves not merely as allies in a fight against evil, but as reliable confidants willing to set aside their differences out of brotherly love for each other.
With a keen eye for an adolescent view on the ups and downs of growing up with siblings, the film’s creators have fashioned a tale that captures the creativity of a child’s imagination. “The Boss Baby” entertains and delights as it takes audiences on a humorous yet profoundly heartfelt and nostalgic journey centered on the strength of family and the insurmountable power of love.
McGrath and Naito took time to chat with The PHOENIX ahead of the film’s March 31 release. The duo dwelled on the story behind “The Boss Baby,” remarking on their personal connections to the film, its nostalgic aspects, the strength of its talented cast and its themes about love and family.
Having been the “Boss Baby” in his own household growing up alongside his older brother, McGrath made a mutual decision with the film’s writer, Michael McCullers (“Mr. Peabody and Sherman,” “Austin Powers”), to incorporate the close sibling dynamic into the script. The director said it was the storyline’s personal touch that “kept it fresh and interesting” throughout the film’s six-year production.
With children of her own, Naito said she immediately related to the film’s depiction of family dynamics.
“Three years ago, Tom [McGrath] sent me the script for ‘The Boss Baby,’ and I read it, and … I couldn’t believe it. It was a mirror of my own life, and I was so drawn to these characters and related to the emotional story of these two brothers learning to love one another,” Naito said. “As a mother, you really want your kids to love each other, and you want them to develop relationships that define your family. Relationships are hard, and families are hard, but at the end of the day, family is everything.”
While the film depicts the humor of sibling rivalry, it also pays homage to classic animated movies, evoking nostalgia in many elements of its cinematography and set pieces.
McGrath said the film isn’t set in a particular decade, but is rather a combination of multiple decades which he referred to as a “really romantic period where kids went out and played and used their imaginations.”
McGrath said the film’s production team worked with major toy companies like Hasbro and Mattel in order to research their vintage products, many of which were copied by animation artists and placed directly in the film. Like all period pieces, “The Boss Baby” required close attention to detail in order to capture the old-school essence that the film’s creators sought to illustrate.
While the film’s witty script and vibrant cinematography help set the overall tone, its voice actors and actresses bring the story’s characters to life. When it came to casting, McGrath and Naito said Alec Baldwin was their first and only choice for the film’s leading role. In Naito’s opinion, “He was born to play Boss Baby.”
McGrath said it wasn’t only Baldwin’s skill as a comedic actor that made him perfect for his role, but it was also his childhood experiences and interest in animation that helped him connect with his character.
“Even [Baldwin] connected with this film in a way because he grew up in a household of seven brothers, and he loves animation,” McGrath said. “He really loves the medium because he gets to play around and try new things, whether it’s singing or doing impressions.”
While “The Boss Baby” delivers a hilarious story about a talking baby with a businessman’s vocabulary, it also offers a touching view on the strength of familial love.
Having described his older brother as his “closest friend and confidant,” McGrath said his favorite part of the film is its depiction of love within families. He said love has the power to heal wounds and bring people together, giving the film great importance in today’s troubling times.
“The story is about … this kid accepting his younger brother for who he is and realizing that their differences are their strengths. Love cannot be traded or bartered for. If you give love, you get it back tenfold,” said McGrath.