So just how did “The Boss Baby” become a target of so much ire and satire?
Well, first, it’s hard to fault any of the four other animated feature nominees. Among the Hollywood entries, “Coco” was heartily embraced by many and sports the cherished Pixar pedigree, and Fox/Blue Sky’s “Ferdinand” got a respectable reception (scoring a solid if unremarkable 70 percent “fresh” among reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes). Meanwhile, both European entries, GKIDS/Cartoon Saloon’s “The Breadwinner” and Good Deed’s “Loving Vincent,” are viewed as painstakingly handcrafted, prestige labors of lower-budget love.
So if your favorite animated film didn’t make the cut with the Oscars or the Globes, “The Boss Baby” — which scored just 52 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, among critics and audiences alike — is the weakest link in the bunch to target. (For comparison’s sake, “Coco,” “The Breadwinner” and “Loving Vincent” all scored above 80 on Rotten Tomatoes among both critics and civilians.)
To be sure, “Boss Baby,” which stars previous Oscar nominee Alec Baldwin as the title voice, is no “Emoji Movie,” which scored a dreadful 9 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and on Monday received four Razzie Award nominations (a record for an animated film).
Really, much of the ongoing derision aimed at “The Boss Baby” can be tracked back to which films are most being slighted — at least according to their fans.
When the Golden Globes nominations were announced in December, the biggest snub was widely considered to be the rollicking “The Lego Batman Movie,” which — with Will Arnett voicing the plastic-caped Crusader — some viewers judged to be among the best Batman incarnations yet. The movie even scored a 91 percent “fresh” among critics.
But the catch is: Why would the Academy suddenly begin showing love to the Lego franchise now? The arguably superior kickoff film in the franchise, 2014’s “The Lego Movie,” didn’t receive an Oscars animated-feature nomination either (its sole Oscar nod was for best song). The Academy Awards, as a voting body, clearly aren’t the biggest fans of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who directed the first entry and stayed on as producers of the sequel.
But this year’s Oscars crop also excludes such submitted contenders as Japan’s “A Silent Voice” and “In This Corner of the World,” Dash Shaw’s “My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea” and the London-sprung “Ethel & Ernest,” as well as such bigger Hollywood fare as “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” (86 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), Pixar’s “Cars 3″ and Illumination’s “Despicable Me 3.”
For animation, the Academy traditionally nominates a blend of handcrafted and CGI movies, as well as a mix of U.S. and foreign films. In 2018, the four most lauded Oscar animation nominees reflected that trend nicely. Meanwhile, “The Boss Baby” nabbed a slot that could easily have gone to one of a handful of other eligible films.
And some years, in truth, there are only three or four fairly exceptional contenders. The rest is the odd mix of politics, random perception and the quirky luck of the awards draw.
So the intriguing question come the March 4 Academy Awards broadcast becomes: Will Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel, who voices the father character in “The Boss Baby,” join in the running joke?