Double Feature: The Boss Baby & Smurfs: The Lost Village
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From DreamWorks we have The Boss Baby based on the children’s book by Marla Frazee, seven-year-old Tim Templeton (Miles Bakshi) doesn’t take to liking his new baby brother who sports a slick business suit, gold wristwatch and briefcase. To make matters more complicated, Tim discovers that the baby can talk (voiced by Alec Baldwin). Turns out that this tiny toddler is from Baby Corp where babies retain their youth and are in charge of infant delivery. He’s also on an undercover mission to discover why puppies are getting more affection than babies. My fears of this movie being atrocious were thankfully not realized. It does have its nice moments that one would find in a Rugrats episode with its metaphorical premise on what a kid feels when they get a new baby brother or sister is on the point and cute. It does get predictable with Tim and the Boss Baby hating each other at first and later enjoy each other’s company as the story moves forward; the brotherly dynamic they have while childish is adorable as it develops. One visual delight is Tim’s over-imaginative fantasies that he partakes with its Splatoon-like color style whether as a pirate or hunter is a delight to watch. Among the least impressive elements are the low-brow jokes that wear out their welcome. I can’t help but think that DreamWorks makes it mandatory to have an over-abundance of pop-culture references, toilet humor of some kind (no pun intended), and lots and lots of butts. It doesn’t help when the plot does get a little silly not in the Cats & Dogs silly but enjoyable way but veers closely into Baby Geniuses stupidity. Mediocre at best The Boss Baby does offer some chuckles with a wholesome message that Frazee’s book captured but I’d rather read the book or better yet watch Storks with its almost similar baby premise. Hopefully, DreamWorks will have better luck with Captain Underpants.
Based on the comic strip by Peyo, The Smurfs follow the adventures of the titular blue critters that are named after their personalities like Clumsy, Grouchy, and Vanity except for Smurfette, the only female of the village. This has coined the term The Smurfette Principle, applying to the token girl trope found in movies or television shows where males mostly make up the cast. From Sony Animation Smurfs: The Lost Village seems to have been made in response to that particular criticism, Smurfette (Demi Lovato) is the main character trying to find her place in the Smurfs village when she stumbles upon a map to a hidden village inhabited by Smurfs of a different kind. Against the wishes of Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin), Smurfette journey’s to this lost village aided by Briany (Danny Pudi), Hefty (Joe Manganiello), and Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) before the evil wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) finds it first. This is the film that should have introduced the Smurfs to a new generation instead of those live-action films with Neil Patrick Harris that are delightfully disposed of in this reboot. Like The Peanuts Movie, its beautiful how the look of 1980’s Hanna-Barbera cartoon translates wonderfully into computer animation and gives Meghan Trainor better music to perform. While there are some familiar pop songs that are out of place at times it doesn’t rely on a plethora of pop-culture references or toilet humor. The characters and cast are great though Rainn Wilson doesn’t capture the same energy that Paul Winchell delivered as Gargamel in the original cartoon but does an admirable job. I love the new Smurfs the group come across that I wished more time was given to them and see them interact with the original village. With the millions of sequels that are made this is one I would definitely want to see more of. Simple and a bit generic, Smurfs: The Lost Village is a movie I will gladly watch over the likes of Non-Disney or Pixar entertainment such as Minions or Trolls.