Thursday, June 16, 2016

Nothing to Cry About: DreamWorks Presents 'The Boss Baby' at Annecy

As expected, DreamWorks held a presentation for their first 2017 release The Boss Baby. Some of the details were a bit on the surprising side...

Based on the children's book of the same name, Variety says the picture is still set to be distributed by 20th Century Fox. Director Tom McGrath spoke of the influence that the classic Warner Bros. cartoons and Disney animated films will have on the film...

"Boss Baby is very much a cartoony sensibility. There’s a lot of squash and stretch," says McGrath. Nothing new in the world of computer animation, for McGrath's own Madagascar back in 2005 had a similar tone, being a CG picture that eschewed the hyperrealism of Pixar's films and DreamWorks' Shrek entries, going for an overly cartoony style - in both the art direction and the character animation itself. More so than Blue Sky's pretty broad and slapstick-heavy Ice Age three years earlier. It and a few other films paved the way for the likes of Hotel Transylvania and many more of the sort.

He went on to say, "Boss Baby is the first film where I could capture things that 2D was able to capture sixty years ago".

So a step beyond the cartoonier CG films of the past ten years, eh? The film's backgrounds have been described as "impressionistic", more in line with 50s Disney animated features like Peter Pan and Lady and the Tramp. The footage wowed at Annecy, and more details on the plot have surfaced. The titular character's mission is to stop PuppyCo. from putting babies out of business, replacing them with pets. The footage, some of the scenes... They sound delightfully absurd, on the level of Madagascar 3, one of my favorite cartoony CG films.

"In one climax sequence, as the young brothers escape from the villain’s brother, Eugene, disguised as a nanny. They do so cycling through a white picket suburb, set against a broad stretch of blue sky and green grass. One pudgy baby friend, Jimbo, has the body of as mini sumo wrestler. As boss baby and elder bro escape to get to Vegas to save their parents, Eugene running after the babies in frantic pursuit attempting to grab a firetruck with Jimbo in it. But it runs away from him down the road, Eugene’s body stretching in desperation as he tries to hold on."

Sounds like DreamWorks has something really cool on hand here. For a long while I wasn't sure about this one, as it sounded kind of safe and expected. Larrikins, in terms of upcoming DreamWorks features - with its rock-n-roll musical vibe and quirky The Gods Must Be Crazy-in-the-Outback premise - is/was more my jam. Anyways, The Boss Baby sounds like it could be zany, over-the-top camp. I think with McGrath directing and Austin Powers scribe Michael McCullers writing, it could definitely be more Madagascar 3 than The Croods. As I've said before ad nauseam, I'm okay with a lightweight animated comedy as long as its got heart, isn't just coasting in all departments, and is something I'll want to watch again. Hopefully The Boss Baby is just that.

What say you?

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