Back in 2010, when the picture book The Boss Baby (S&S/Beach Lane) was published, author-illustrator Marla Frazee had no inclination that Alec Baldwin would one day voice her character on the big screen. But an animated film loosely based on Frazee’s picture book arrives in movie theaters on March 31. And, yes, Alec Baldwin—who, incidentally, is also portraying the current POTUS on Saturday Night Live—provides the voice for the titular character.
Frazee’s book imagines a family’s newborn baby as a tiny boss with a briefcase and a suit who dictates everything that goes on in the household —a metaphor that may resonate with new parents who find that the arrival of an infant is a bit like a hostile takeover. Since publication the book has more than 200,000 copies in print; in 2016, Frazee followed with a sequel, The Bossier Baby, which introduces Boss Baby’s infant sister. The film—which in addition to Baldwin features the voices of Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, and Tobey Maguire—greatly expands upon the premise of the original book. Tim Templeton (Maguire) narrates the story, looking back on his childhood growing up in the shadow of his baby brother, the Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin). The DreamWorks film introduces a plotline involving the CEO of Puppy Co., Francis E. Francis, played by Steve Buscemi. Francis hatches a nefarious plot against Boss Baby, which necessitates that Boss Baby and Tim join forces to protect their family and the world.
Who’s the Boss?
Last year, Frazee spoke with PW about having her 32-page picture book adapted to the screen. She described how, when her picture book was first optioned, she didn’t count on the movie coming to fruition, since so many books are optioned that never get made. With the movie now a reality, we recently spoke again with Frazee about the experience. “The perfect geniuses happened to fall in love with Boss Baby and see its potential as a movie,” she said. “They, in turn, lovingly handed it off to larger and larger teams of brilliant, creative people.” Frazee’s Boss Baby character on the page may seem a far cry from the animated, Baldwin-voiced character on screen, but the author sees a strong connection: “Where my book and their story intersect is interesting to me. There’s a definite affinity between my baby and the character in the film.”
Not only is Frazee’s character starring on the screen, but in new book formats as well. Simon Spotlight has released several movie tie-in editions aimed at readers of different age ranges: two board books, a Boss Baby junior novelization, and a leveled reader. Additionally, a burst labeling the book as the inspiration for the film has been added to the original picture book’s paperback edition.
For Frazee, seeing Boss Baby grow up and star in a movie took a little adjusting. While Frazee has paid close attention to the film-making process, she believes that, as with raising any child, there comes a time to let go. “I’ve been privy to this process, but my big job was to mind my own business. Not Boss Baby’s. All moms must learn to do this eventually.” That being said, she certainly plans to be a proud mother at Boss Baby’s premiere.