Western Animation / The Boss Baby

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/the_boss_baby_poster.jpg
He means business.

The Boss Baby is a 2017 American animated film by DreamWorks Animation directed by Tom McGrath, one of the co-directors of Madagascar and its sequels. It is loosely based on a picture book of the same name by Marla Frazee.

Tim Templeton (Tobey Maguire) narrates the story of his life when he was seven years old. Young Tim (Miles Bakshi) had his life turned upside down when his parents Ted (Jimmy Kimmel) and Janice (Lisa Kudrow) introduce a baby named Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin), who wears a suit and carries a briefcase around. He also eventually discovered that Boss Baby could also talk, and that the owner of Puppy Co., Francis E. Francis (Steve Buscemi) has a plan which threatens to destabilize the balance of love in the world. The brothers must team up to save their parents and restore the balance of love to the world.

The film was released on March 31, 2017.

A sequel is planned for March 26, 2021.

Previews: Teaser, Trailer 1, Trailer 2.

The Boss Baby provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Jerkass: The executives of Baby Corp in the film's novelization. When Francis Francis talks about them firing him, there is no mention of him being lactose intolerant like in the film. Apparently they just fired him without any stated reason.
  • Adorkable: Tim is wildly imaginative, cheerful and energetic, speaks to his alarm clock as if it was an actual person, and refuses to ride his bicycle without the proper safety gear, or for that matter, cross the street against a red light, even when the babysitter (who's really a henchman for the Big Bad) chases after him. Of course he qualifies as this.
  • Adults Are Useless: Seems to be the case, as the parents are completely oblivious to Boss Baby's very strange aspects, and seem to be inattentive enough to not let their son know they were planning on having a baby, and more importantly, sneaking into a puppy only building of some kind. It is at least implied, though, that some of it may be magic, as the Boss Baby simply shows up in a taxi. At the end of the film, it is very deliberately shown that the parents are magically made to forget that the Boss Baby ever existed.
  • Adult Fear: Invoked when Tim makes Boss Baby look sick so Boss Baby could "throw up" on the sitter.
  • And Your Reward Is Infancy: As per Boss Baby's choice.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The anti-aging baby formula that enables all Baby Corp employees to retain their adult-like intelligence while maintaining their infantile bodies, as long as the formula is consumed regularly. Should Boss Baby fail to drink his formula for a great length of time, he would gradually be unable to suppress his latent baby-like behavior. Furthermore, should the effects of the formula wear off completely, Boss Baby would become an ordinary baby — no longer possessing his adult-like intelligence, and subject to the normal aging process. This becomes a plot point when Francis E. Francis steals Boss Baby's formula and infuses its properties into the DNA of the Forever Puppy product line. It's also because Francis had to go off the formula because of being lactose intolerant that led to his Start of Darkness when he was fired from Baby Corp.
  • Arc Words:
    • The Boss Baby tries to get under Tim's skin by telling him that they'll always be together, when Tim wakes up in the morning, every Christmas and eventually growing old together. Later, when Tim wants his baby brother, now the head of Baby Corp., back, he writes a letter to him using these words affectionately.
    • The "Blackbird" song is used several times, first as a bedtime song to Tim, then to the Boss Baby, then the Boss Baby trying to cheer Tim up and finally Tim, lonely and sad, after he has a fight with the Boss Baby in the airport and they seem to have split, Tim having said that he wished the Boss Baby had never been born.
  • Argument of Contradictions: Tim and the Boss Baby have one over whether or not the Boss Baby is "the boss of him." Eventually, the Boss Baby gets bored of it, records himself saying "Am too," and plays it repeatedly to continue his side of the argument.
  • Artistic License Animal Care: Pools of puppies? Rockets which launch and drop puppies? That would be pretty unethical in Real Life.
  • Baby Talk:
    • This is Tim's mother's response to Tim's complaint that the Boss Baby is "taking over the whole house."
    Tim's Mom: (baby-talk voice) Are you taking over the whole house? Yes, you are! Yes, you are!
    • When Tim discovers that the Boss Baby can talk like an adult, he tries for a "goo-goo ga-ga" to convince him otherwise. Since he says it in the same deep voice he always uses, it obviously doesn't work.
  • Bathtub Scene: At some point in the movie, Tim is taking a bath when suddenly, his mom puts Boss Baby in the tub with him. Tim is quite embarrassed by the whole situation, and his dad taking a photo of the moment clearly doesn't help.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: When a flight attendant asks Tim and the Boss Baby to explain their presence as the sole passengers in first class on the Elvis Convention flight to Las Vegas, they claim to be the captain's kids. Not only does it work, but they also throw their own little party by getting the flight attendant to bring them stuff like a piñata when she asks if there's anything they need. Later, when disembarking, they address the captain as "Dad" before slipping away.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Near the end, both Templeton brother got what they wanted earlier after defeating Francis E. Francis and making sure babies get the most love — Tim gets the unshared attention from his parents and Boss Baby gets a promotion. Except, neither one can enjoy it because now they miss the other.
  • "Begone" Bribe: The Boss Baby likes to throw money at people as a way of trying to get rid of them.
  • Berserk Button: Never break Tim's toy Lamb-Lamb. Boss Baby learned this one the hard way.
  • Book Dumb: Tim is imaginative, clever and adventurous, but gets mostly Cs and Ds in school, something that the Boss Baby tries to use against him.
  • Born as an Adult: Boss Baby, as well as any babies sent to BabyCorp Management. Although, they still look like babies except for the suits.
  • Brainy Baby: All babies are able to talk, and this trope is taken Up to Eleven with Boss Baby.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the beginning of the second trailer, Boss Baby directly tells the audience the release date of the movie, and also states that talking candlesticks will be included if needed.
  • Break Them by Talking: The Boss Baby with Tim, telling him that they'll always be together, every morning, every Christmas and eventually growing old. See Arc Words above.
  • Broken Pedestal: Boss Baby aspires to be as successful as Super Colossal Big Fat Boss Baby. Unfortunately, SCBFBB grew up and became Francis E. Francis, the CEO of PuppyCo out for revenge against BabyCorp for getting rid of him because the anti-aging formula wasn't working on him due to his lactose intolerance. Boss Baby is horrified to learn the truth.
  • Catapult Nightmare: In the end of a deleted scene from The Boss Baby called "Tim's Nightmare"
  • Censorship by Spelling: At dinner with his parents and the Boss Baby, Tim tells his parents that he needs to talk with them alone about the "B-A-B-E-E." Later, the Boss Baby refers to Tim on the phone as the "K-I-D."
  • Character Title: The character in question being the Boss Baby, one of the two main characters of the film, though possibly not actually the lead character, given the focus on Tim and his role as narrator.
  • Companion Cube: Tim has his Lamb Lamb, which the Boss Baby makes fun of. The Boss Baby then threatens Tim through his Lamb Lamb, and their fighting eventually results in Lamb Lamb being badly ripped. At the end of the film, Boss Baby presents Tim with a repaired Lamb Lamb.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The first part of the credits are presented as a joint pirate fantasy of Tim and the Boss Baby (Theodore) - eventually the Mom comes in and tells them it's time to go to bed, but then agrees to let them play just a little longer, though what we see of the fantasy ends at this point as the credits transition to the less-distracting sort of background typically used for the lengthy scrolling credits.
  • Disneyesque: In this film, the characters' eyes are much larger than the characters' eyes in the previous Dreamworks films. Possibly, Dreamworks is trying to copy Disney's CGI style.
  • Elvis Impersonator: Tim and the Boss Baby need to get to Las Vegas, fortunately a group of several of these appearing in the airport turn out to be their ticket, as they're all going to a convention in Las Vegas. They end up dressing up as one, and are later pursued by another, who is working as an enforcer for the Big Bad.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Tim's middle name is Leslie. When Boss Baby officially becomes part of the Templeton family, he is named Theodore Lindsay Templeton. Towards the end of the movie in the present, both have become part of the brothers' friendly ribbing of each other.
  • Enemy Mine: Young Tim agrees to help Boss Baby "just to get rid of [him]". Neither really likes each other, at least at first. Boss Baby agrees because he wants to leave just as much as Tim wants him gone, so that he can get promoted.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The Boss Baby tries to threaten Tim into handing over an incriminating tape by threatening Lamb Lamb, but when the resulting fight results in Lamb Lamb actually getting ripped, the Boss Baby is briefly apologetic, admitting that that was "too far".
  • Family of Choice: Neither Tim nor the Boss Baby really like each other at first and are only "family" because the Boss Baby was introduced to the family by Tim's parents, apparently a direct manipulation so that the Boss Baby could investigate Puppy Co., which Tim's parents both work for. In the end, Tim is miserable at the Boss Baby, who'd he'd grown to appreciate, being gone, and the Boss Baby is moved by Tim's letter and decides to give up his cushy corporate boss life and become a real baby who becomes a part of Tim's family.
  • Fantasy Helmet Enforcement: Played for Laughs, as Timothy insists that he and the Boss Baby cannot ride a bike without wearing them and then Timothy then proceeds to do some of the craziest stuff ever done by a kid on a bike, all having just ditched training wheels with the Boss Baby's encouragement.
  • Foreshadowing: When Tim and the Boss Baby are panicking about the idea that the Boss Baby might end up being fired from Baby Corp and become a real baby and be Tim's brother forever, Boss Baby comments that it feels right. At the end of the film, this is what happens by the choice of both of them.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Tim's Mom calls him "Timothy Leslie Templeton" just before she and his Dad ground him forever, or at least until he learns to get along with the Boss Baby.
  • Fun with Subtitles: The Elvis impersonators all use Elvis-sounding phrases or song titles when speaking; their meaning is presented in subtitles at the bottom of the screen.
  • Funny X-Ray: When Boss Baby and Tim sneak past security at the airport by going through the x-ray machine, the x-ray shows both boys covering their crotches with their hands.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • When Tim and Boss Baby get a ride to the convention center with a bachelorette party, Tim has a drink and spits it out before saying, "The people of Long Island really don't know how to make an iced tea."
    • Tim's parents apparently telling him about sex and reproduction at seven years old. Maybe even younger.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    Boss Baby: How do we get past the guard?
    (cut to him wearing a puppy costume and leading several real puppies)
  • Greeting Gesture Confusion: Tim and the Boss Baby go through this a couple of times. Tim likes a handshake, the Boss Baby prefers a fist bump.
  • Groin Attack: Boss Baby hits Tim in the nuts with a rubber duck, causing his voice to go higher and eyes to cross.
  • Grounded Forever: Subverted; Tim's parents initially ground him "forever" when he's caught trying to catapult the baby out of the window, but they later unground him when they see Tim and the baby playing together in various charming ways. And in the film's novelization, they just ground him for three weeks.
  • Here We Go Again: The movie ends with Tim's daughter seeing her baby sister for the first time, only to discover she is also a Boss Baby.
  • Imagine Spot: Tim initiates several of these, each accompanied by an Art Shift.
  • Immortality Inducer: The Baby Corp. formula grants immortality to anyone who drinks it regularly. Francis E. Francis grew up after his lactose intolerance prevented him from drinking it, and Puppy Co. plans to use it to keep the Forever Puppies forever young.
  • Implausible Deniability: When Tim catches the Boss Baby talking on the phone and calls him out on it, the Boss Baby's one attempt at denial is weak and perfunctory.
    Boss Baby: (speaking in the same deep voice he always uses) Uh, goo-goo ga-ga.
  • In-Name-Only: The original picture book is a fairly simply picture book that explores the idea of a baby being the "boss" of a family because it gets everything it wants just by crying - food, a cozy place to nap, cuddles, etc. The film is the story of an older brother discovering his new baby brother can talk and is a powerful corporate boss who is working to stop a corporation known as Puppy Co.
  • Just a Kid: Tim and the Boss Baby are overlooked and get away with pretty much anything on the basis that they are both just kids and therefore not a threat. It's also likely why, at the end of the film, Tim's parents have their memories erased of having a baby, but Tim is given a choice and chooses to keep his memories.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Young Tim points out how his parents apparently don't see anything wrong with Boss Baby wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The parents' memories of Boss Baby are erased at the end.
  • Literal Metaphor: Puppy Co.'s new product launch consists of launching a rocket that will air-drop millions of puppies into customers' hands worldwide.
  • Logo Joke: The DreamWorks moon is represented by a baby mobile, and the clouds are colored similarly to those of the original DreamWorks logo.
  • Made of Explodium: One of the babies' trucks explodes when it hits a fence.
  • Mood Whiplash: When Young Tim is clinging on to Boss Baby's car as it appears to be moving fast, the scene abruptly cuts to reveal that they aren't going that fast, and Tim's parents think the kids are having fun.
  • Mr. Imagination: Tim has a greatly vivid imagination and his teaching the Boss Baby to share in the joys of this is a plot point.
  • Mystical Pregnancy: The circumstances of Boss Baby's arrival into the Templeton family is unclear. An early scene shows Janice with a fairly obvious baby bump, only to soon feature Boss Baby arriving via a taxi and Janice without any sort of bump. Whether the baby arrived via natural childbirth or adoption is never specified. This can also lead to some Unfortunate Implications later when the Templetons are later made to forget about the baby, but is somewhat justified by Tim's role as an Unreliable Narrator.
  • Nested Story Reveal: At the end of the movie, it is revealed the whole film is adult Tim telling his daughter about how he coped with the arrival of his baby brother Ted, before they go see her new baby sister.
  • Never My Fault: When Tim is grounded, he's angry with Boss Baby for stealing all his parents' love from him. Never minding that he's still responsible for almost catapulting the baby out the window.
  • Nominal Importance: The Boss Baby's name is never used throughout most of the movie; it is only revealed after he becomes a "proper" member of the family. It's "Theodore."
  • Not Helping Your Case:
    • Sure Tim, tell your parents that the Boss Baby can talk as soon as they catch you trying to catapult him out the window. They won't think you're crazy at all.
    • Tim also fails to mention that the Boss Baby ripped apart Lam-Lam, which provoked him to catapult him in the first place. Though, to be fair, that most likely wouldn't have helped either, given that Tim was still technically putting Boss Baby's life in danger.
  • Not So Different: Francis E. Francis makes this claim to Tim in the climax; Tim should know how Francis feels, as the Boss Baby showed up and stole all the love that should've been Tim's, and Tim could've had his parents' love all to himself if only Tim hadn't let the Boss Baby boss him around. But Tim replies that he's nothing like Francis, as Tim and the Boss Baby are partners.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Both Tim and the Boss Baby react this way anytime after the Boss Baby reverts to acting like a regular baby because the effects of his formula are wearing off.
  • Poor Communication Kills: As CinemaSins pointed out, it's rather odd that Boss Baby wouldn't just explain his intentions to stop Puppy Co. to Tim as soon as it was found out he can talk. Granted, they didn't exactly get along before this fact was discovered, but Puppy Co.'s plan to destroy Baby Corp doesn't sound much less believable than a talking baby.
  • Precious Puppy: Invoked with Francis Francis, the CEO of Puppy Co, who wants to create the cutest puppy on Earth, so people would love it over babies.
  • Raise Him Right This Time: After Francis E. Francis is turned back into Super Colossal Big Fat Boss Baby, his "brother" promises this.
  • Repetitive Name: Francis E. Francis.
  • The Reveal: Francis E. Francis was once the Super Colossal Boss Baby, but he got fired and decided to turn against Baby Corp.
  • Revenge: This is what motivates Super Colossal Big Fat Boss Baby - he was fired from Baby Corp when he could no longer drink the formula keeping him as a baby due to being lactose intolerant and founded Puppy Co. as revenge, with his plan of eventually transferring the world's love to puppies with his Forever Puppy invention.
  • Rube Goldberg Contraption: Tim and Boss Baby are trapped by one, based on the board game Mouse Trap. They know it's a trap, but they're too mesmerized by it to escape and want to see how it plays out.
  • Running Gag: Boss Baby will occasionally throw money at someone to placate them after something unfortunate happens to them (i.e., Tim discovering Boss Baby can talk or when Boss Baby is in disguise as a puppy and he bites a girl that picks him up).
  • Russian Reversal: The Boss Baby tells Tim that "Either you run the day, or the day runs you."
  • Schmuck Bait: When Tim and the Boss Baby sneak into a secret room at Puppy Co., they find the supposed plans for the Forever Puppy lying in a manila envelope right out in the open on a dais with a spotlight on them and fall for it hook, line and sinker. They swap it another with another envelope that the Boss Baby drips drool on and is then lowered away. When they open the folder, it turns out to have nothing but a piece of paper inside it that says something like "Gotcha!" They then have a cage dropped on them, followed by them being ejected down a trapdoor.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the second trailer, Boss Baby says that talking candlesticks will be included if the audience wants them.
    • Boss Baby pulls out a Voltron action figure. In fact, Dreamworks now owns the Voltron franchise owner Classic Media and currently produces the critically-acclaimed reboot Voltron: Legendary Defender.
    • Tim's alarm clock resembles Gandalf and even says "...HE SHALL NOT PAAAASS!"
    • The scene with Puppy Co.'s "top secret" plans is a riff of the opening scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, while the trap itself is one big replica of the Mouse Trap board game.
    • Upon spotting a crowd of Elvis impersonators at the airport, Tim exclaims "Elvis is everywhere!"
    • The line "Cookies are for closers!" spoofs one of Alec Baldwin's best known lines from Glengarry Glen Ross.
    • At one point, Boss Baby reads a Mr. Magoo comic book, another Classic Media property.
    • Tim's fantasies are done in a style mimicking Maurice Noble's designs for Chuck Jones' Ralph Phillips cartoons (who, like Tim, is a Mr. Imagination). Some scenes, like Tim fighting a shark or being in a prison cell when grounded, are direct homages.
    • Francis' Giant Mook disguises himself as Mary Poppins when masquerading as a nanny. Francis even says he's "practically perfect in every way." The Boss Baby later refers to him as "Scary Poppins."
    • The movie was released in Brazil under the name O Poderoso Chefinho ("The Powerful Little Boss", in Portuguese), a shout-out to The Godfather, which is known there as O Poderoso Chefão ("The Powerful Big Boss").
  • Significant Birth Date: At the end of the film, Tim's new baby daughter has her birth date written on a tag on her crib as 3/31/17, which was the day of the film's theatrical release.
  • The Stinger: Tim's talking clock Wizzie appears at the end of the credits, telling us "Be gone and live your peasant lives. Be gone with you."
  • Swirlie: Tim and the Boss Baby give the babysitter, who is really more of a jailer, one before ditching him. It doesn't slow him down long.
  • The Talk: Tim implies that his father gave him some version of this. The Boss Baby is grossed out when he whispers to him a brief version of it. Tim admits that he didn't really find it believable.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: One of Tim's favorite fantasies is being a pirate and when he plays pirates with the Boss Baby, the Boss Baby says, "You're fired! And here's your severance package! Ha!", causing Tim to tell him that "You're not supposed to end 'Ha!' You're supposed to end with 'AAARRRGH'!"
  • Three-Point Landing: After Tim and the Boss Baby are "virtually projected" into Baby Corp's corporate office, they both fall through the ceiling and impact with the floor. Tim doesn't land gracefully, but the Boss Baby pulls off this maneuver flawlessly. He gets bonus points for the landing as his contact hand is not flat against the floor, but instead it's his favorite hand gesture: the fist bump.
  • Tickle Torture: Tim tries to break the Boss Baby by tickling him, but the Boss Baby says that it won't work on him, as he doesn't have any ticklish spots. Tim says that everyone does and proves it. Later, the both of them use this against Francis E. Francis.
    • Becomes somewhat of a Chekov's Gun: The tickle test determines if a prospective baby get shunted to "FAMILY" or "MANAGEMENT;" both Boss Baby and Francis E. Francis are ticklish, just not in the same place as the other babies.
  • Toilet Humor: Many earlier reviews complained about much of the film's humor deriving from it, to the point of excess. While it is true that there are a fair few of these gags, there's plenty of other humor too, and it hardly seems fair to say the film relies on it.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: From the recent trailers, we know that the puppies are going to be loaded into a rocket, with Boss Baby and Ted saving several from falling.
  • The Unfavourite: This is what Tim fears becoming following the arrival of the Boss Baby; it's what the Boss Baby fears babies will become to puppies if Francis E. Francis's plan succeeds. In the end, Tim's act of kindness in inviting the Boss Baby back into his family inspires the Boss Baby to do something that ratchets love for both babies and puppies, as well as several other things, up to 999% before quitting Baby Corp and allowing himself to be born as a normal baby so that he can join Tim's family.
  • Unperson: When the baby's work is finished and he has to leave the family, a team of babies show up to magically erase the parents memory of him and remove all evidence that he was there, replacing all photos he was in with versions where he's not there. As the baby says, it's as if he never existed. Downplayed slightly in that Tim is given the option to keep his memories, which he chooses to do, so Boss Baby isn't completely Unpersoned.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Used mildly; it is eventually revealed that the entire film is Tim's fanciful recollection to his young daughter about how he coped with the arrival of a new sibling. This also serves to justify the more fantastical elements of the story. Summary material for the film specifically states that it is "told from the point of view of a delightfully unreliable narrator." Exactly how much we're supposed to believe about what happened within the universe of the film is unclear.
  • Vocal Dissonance: The whole movie's premise revolves around Alec Baldwin's gravelly voice being on an infant.
  • We'll See About That: Tim discovers an "invasion" of babies in his home. His Mom says that it's a playdate. The Boss Baby tells him that it's a meeting and he won't be attending. Tim's response?
    Tim: (determined) We'll see about that.
  • Widely Spaced Jail Bars: The cage that Francis E. Francis places Tim and the Boss Baby in looks like both of them could just climb a little and get right out of it. It doesn't really matter because they're both dropped through a trapdoor before they can even really consider it.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Francis E. Francis.
  • Yes-Man: Boss Baby's underlings include identical triplets who agree with everything he says.
  • You Can Talk?: Tim asks this upon hearing Boss Baby carrying on a telephone conversation in his room.
    Tim: You can talk?
    Boss Baby: Uh, goo-goo ga-ga.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: Upon Tim discovering that the Boss Baby can talk, the first thing the Boss Baby does is to tell him "Get me a double espresso, and see if there's some place around here with decent sushi. I would kill for a spicy tuna roll right about now," followed by throwing some money at him and suggesting he get a little something for himself as well.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WesternAnimation/TheBossBaby