It’s hard for adults to forget Alec Baldwin’s nasty public persona. So when you first hear his voice in “The Boss Baby,” you’re tempted to recall his baser moments.
Kids don’t have that issue. They can just watch “The Boss Baby” and giggle at the gags.
And yet “The Boss Baby” is one of those animated films adults may enjoy more than the wee ones. Why? Some of the jokes demand an adult perspective to appreciate.
Pretty sure lil’ Bobby or Jane won’t get lines like “cookies are for closers,” a callback to Baldwin’s classic phrase from “Glengarry Glen Ross.”
It’s not the only animated film designed to delight adults as much as children … if not more. Consider the following films which offered the kind of mature, sophisticated narratives that spoke directly to adults.
This Pixar gem offers plenty of yuks for the children. Just remember the dog with the device that let it “speak” like a person?
The film also has a bravura sequence recalling the love between our elderly hero and his bride. This early montage reduced more than a few adults to tears, and for good reason. It’s poignant storytelling, the kind many live-action movies struggle to match.
It’s why “Up” isn’t just a beloved kiddies movie but one that forged a palpable bond with its adult audience.
The crew behind this 2016 Disney hit clearly wanted to send a message to audiences of all ages. Be careful when you judge others before getting to know them. Yet the core of that message is far more complex, giving adults a sophisticated story to process along with the usual sight gags.
That kind of ambition helps power the film, which uses clever animal metaphors to make more challenging arguments about society.
Plus, how many children will laugh when they see a DMV office run by … sloths? That’s the kind of sublime joke aimed directly at parents. And it’s a bull’s-eye.
“Toy Story 3”
The “Toy Story” franchise made Buzz Lightyear and Woody household names. The films also tap into something more esoteric — the innocence of childhood and the bittersweet reality of growing up.
That theme is ever present in the third film in the series. This time, Andy is a college-aged teen ready to leave most of his once-beloved toys behind. Their legacy (spoiler alert) eventually is passed along to a new child. That’s both a part of life and a lifeline to those who mourn the days when plastic dinosaurs meant everything to us.
Childhood ends, but sometimes our toys can live on just a bit longer.
It’s the story of a whimsical robot who makes the most out of every situation, no matter how dark. That simple theme is all the hook youngsters need. That, and our hero’s quizzical nature.
Their parents see something else. The story looks at how adults have ruined the planet and why even in outer space our lack of discipline can come back to haunt us.
This Pixar neo-classic may be the most woke of its era.
Johnny Depp’s vocal performance in this 2011 gem might be his best turn in ages. That’s one way adults can admire this visually stunning film. They also will appreciate the more nuanced themes at work, from Rango’s ability to reinvent himself, to the notion that some heroes are reluctant to the core.
What about the appearance of the Clint-like stranger during the film’s third act? Or the many ways “Rango” teases Western tropes in sophisticated ways? Once again, Hollywood turns a frothy kid’s film into a feature tailor-made for mature sensibilities.