Thursday, March 30, 2017
The Boss Baby (SPOILERS) Adoption Movie Review
Tim Templeton has the perfect life for a seven-year-old boy. His parents dote on him, play games with him, engage his imagination, and send him to bed each night with stories, hugs, and a special song. One day, Tim’s parents ask him if he would like a baby brother – he says that he doesn’t want one – because after all, he is enough. But, the baby shows up anyway. Tim’s new baby brother – The Boss – dresses sharp and, as Tim finds out later, can talk. The Boss is concerned that there will not be enough love for babies in the world because people are starting to love puppies. In the meantime, Tim starts to fear that there will not be enough love for him in his parents’ hearts because they’re falling in love with the new baby.
SPOILERS AHEAD THE REST OF THE WAY
The Adoption Connection
There is no talk of adoption in the film. However, any child who has welcomed a new sibling into their family might relate to Tim’s fear that his parents won’t be able to love him enough. The movie harps on that fear. The Boss Baby tells Tim, (roughly paraphrasing) “You’re seven and a half. You’re old. It’s time to make way… There’s only so much love to go around.” Tim suggests that they could share, but the Baby says, “There’s not enough love to go around, and if you don’t adjust, there eventually won’t be a place for you.” This leaves Tim wondering whether he can be fired from his own family; in order to protect his place in his parents’ hearts, Tim sets out to rid himself of the new baby, first by trying to prove that the Baby is sinister, and then by trying to catapult him out of a window.
Some kids who have been neglected prior to coming into foster care might connect with a question that Tim asks The Boss Baby, “You missed childhood? You never had someone to love you?”
Eventually, Tim and The Boss Baby come to care about each other, and see the value of family. Tim is ultimately assured that he’ll never be fired from his family.
Tim eventually comes to nurture his brother; he even sings his baby brother the song that his parents used to sing to him.
In a heaven-like celestial baby factory, The Boss Baby is designated for management instead of belonging to a family because he doesn’t quite fit in, and doesn’t appear to be ticklish.
The Baby’s words to Tim are very unkind, and they could be painful for some kids to hear. Tim’s attempts to defeat his new baby brother could be very dangerous if a young child mimicked them with a real-life baby; in particular, after the baby threatened to destroy Tim’s treasured stuffed animal, Tim prepares to use his baby brother’s swing chair to catapult the baby from a second story window onto the street.
Tim’s parents don’t seem particularly sensitive to Tim’s feelings; they cover Tim’s pictures on the fridge with pictures of the new baby. Tim feels rejected when his parents don’t do his regular bedtime routine with him.
Tim wishfully remarks that his parents might be able to return the baby to the store and get their money back. It’s a quick remark, but it could catch some sensitive ears by surprise.
At one point, Tim expresses a sentiment that other big siblings probably have said or thought at times, but it still could be hard to hear; he tells the baby, “My life was perfect till you showed up. I wish you’d never been born.” The baby, who did not appear hurt by other things Tim said, appears cut by this remark, and walks off.
One character intends to make it so that “no one will ever want a baby again.”
A kid behind me cried during a scene when it appeared that an infant was imperiled.
BIG SPOILER ALERT: When the Boss Baby leaves Tim’s home, small kids wave magic wands to make Tim’s parents forget that he ever existed. Although they do this to Tim’s parents without their consent, Tim is given the option whether to forget The Boss; he chooses to remember his brother. Later, The Boss decides to be born into Tim’s family. It’s nice to see that the brothers have chosen to accept each other, but it could be hard for some kids to think that their parents could easily forget them – this could be particularly painful for kids who wonder whether their birth parents remember them, or who fear losing their adoptive parents. On a side note, Tim has a very active imagination, and it’s possible that his entire experience with The Boss Baby was imagined in response to his mother’s apparent pregnancy; the film doesn’t make that clear, though, and most kids probably won’t make that assumption. END SPOILER
The Boss Baby had some funny moments and ultimately ended happily, but it didn’t live up to the hopes I had for it, and it’s got some aspects that make it hard to recommend for young or sensitive viewers. Most kids 11 and up should be fine, but younger kids – especially those for whom permanency hasn’t always been a sure thing – might find certain aspects of this one very troubling. It would be helpful for parents to directly remind their children that the children will never be fired from the family, and that there is enough love to go around, no matter how many kids come into the home.
Questions for Discussion
Can parents love more than one child with “all of their heart?” Can a child love more than one parent (or more than one pet) with “all of their heart?”
Where does love come from? Do you only have a certain amount to give, or can you make (or find) more?
What are the good parts of having a new brother or sister? What parts scare you?