Actor Alec Baldwin finds a role befitting his temperament as the voice of an overbearing toddler in an animated blockbuster now available on the ultra high-definition format with The Boss Baby: Special Edition (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, rated PG, 97 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $44.99).
Loosely based on the acclaimed children’s book by Marla Frazee, the story tells of the perfect life of 7-year-old, only-child Timothy Templeton (voiced by Miles Bakshi).
All that quickly changes when mom and dad (Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmel) bring home his new baby brother Theodore (Mr. Baldwin), who turns Tim’s life upside down.
However, there is more to this infant than drooling, crying and diaper management. Tim discovers that the baby — wearing a tiny business suit — can talk like an adult, write memos, spread cash around, and is simply not his younger brother.
Theodore has actually been sent on a secret mission by Baby Corps, an organization that produces infants and monitors their love quotient against a main, formidable opponent, the cuddly puppy.
Theodore’s objective is to follow the parents to their place of work at Puppy Co. and stop the plans of its owner Francis E. Francis (Steve Buscemi) to make a breed of dog more loved than a baby.
The amusing premise plays out with a steady stream of baby butt-cheek gags, with only an occasional flatulence moment. The action features an “Indiana Jones” scene tied to a full-sized “Mouse Trap” game and an encounter with a group of Elvis impersonators that leads to one of the bigger laughs.
Parents will appreciate the themes of family and love as well as Mr. Baldwin’s performance, and children might enjoy the extreme take on sibling rivalry.
4K UHD in action: I have noticed a trend in 4K versus Blu-ray animated releases. In almost all cases, the Blu-ray 1080p transfer is near equal in visual quality to its ultra high-definition counterpart.
I’m not sure if the high dynamic range sharpens colors to the point of oversaturation or the greater contrast is too overbearing for the medium, but it actually delivers a too stark presentation.
In the case of “The Boss Baby,” my observation stands. Fans will be equally if not slightly more happy watching the Blu-ray version with a warmer and just as bold color scheme as going for the more detailed upgrade.
Still, the stand-out moments from either format deliver some eye-popping examples of computer animation.
Vivid color really kicks in, especially purples and blues, during any of Tim’s imaginative mini-adventures, including rescuing his parents from a shark, and participating in space battles, a motorcycle daredevil stunt and a pirate ship sword fight.
Especially notable is a nearly two-dimensional Ninja impersonation by Tim that saturates the screen with black and red while adding a hint of florescent green for the eyes.
Also worth mentioning are details such as the Gandalf-like alarm clock with plastic mouth and beard pieces moving as it talks; the pop-up book animation for “Super Colossal Big Fat Baby Boss”; Theodore’s projectile green vomit green; and every explosion basking in fiery reds and smoke plumes.
Best extras: I did not find much to consider this release a “special edition” with only five animated shorts to keep the kiddies enthralled within “The Boss Baby” mythology and a about 7 minutes of featurettes about the production.
Best of the shorts offers a couple of minutes covering the background on Theodore’s extended crew with dossiers on Staci, Jimbo and the triplets; and a 3-minute, Baby Corps., employee orientation video.
Skip the brief, behind-the-scenes fodder and instead watch an 11-minute look at four deleted scenes, each explained by director Tom McGrath and producer Ramsey Naito.
The quartet is made up of not fully realized segments, comprised of mostly, slightly animated storyboards, but it’s interesting to learn why the sequences were cut while understanding the overall creative process.
The light selection of extras is a bit disappointing and could have used an optional commentary track from the director and animators. The edition is certainly not comparable to any Disney-animated home release these days, always overloaded with bonus content.