A baby … who’s a boss! It’s a great premise for a movie, but it could have been so much more.
In his 1927 book Understanding Human Nature, the psychotherapist Alfred Adler argued that children’s birth order—their status in their families as a first child, or middle, or youngest—influences, in ways both varied and predictable, the personalities they go on to develop later in life. It’s a notion that, today, is controversial. The controversy has done very little, however, to prevent birth-order theory’s endurance as a mainstay of pop psychology and pop culture. As Parents.com recently put it, “Birth order plays a role in how we do things, which career we choose, and how our relationships play out.”
Did the world need an animated feature film dedicated to the psychological effects of an idea that is nearly a century old? No, very probably it did not. But here, nonetheless, is DreamWorks’ The Boss Baby, which is dedicated both to the existential challenges that confront an older sibling when a new one comes along, and also to the many delights that come from spending time in the company of a suit-wearing, corporate-speaking infant. (Both. Really.)