There’s more to be said for – and by – the animation itself. The original book’s gently sketched visual style – the work of writer-illustrator Marla Frazee – has been switched out for an ebullient, retro-expressionist colour-whirl that’s hugely indebted to both the pioneering Disney artist Mary Blair and Bill Watterson’s Spaceman Spiff Calvin and Hobbes strips.
It’s a look that chimes with the film’s setting – a nonspecific olden-days American suburbia of transistor radios, train sets and meals in tinfoil trays. If only it carried over to the characters themselves, who are a fantastically uncharming bunch all sculpted from the now-usual textureless DreamWorks digi-flab.
By all means shrug and say well, it’s for kids, so the pre-owned jokes, threadbare subtext and convoluted plot make no odds. It’ll pass the time. Well, so will the autoplay function on YouTube.
From an oddly similar premise, sky-bound baby factory and all, last year’s Storks got madcap right, while pulling off an improbable third-act emotional pivot. By the time The Boss Baby makes its late-breaking, grubby-fingered grab for your heartstrings, you want to hand it back and reach for the wet wipes.