On January 23, 2018, Vice’s Eve Peyser submitted an article explaining why “Boss Baby” deserves an Oscar nomination. I only read it recently, and although I’m about 90% sure she was trolling, I must say I disagree. I have not seen the film myself, but I have watched CinemaSins tear it apart, so I, at least, know enough about its flaws to disagree. With the Oscars coming up next Sunday, I think it’s worthwhile to explain why.
Peyser gives two reasons for the film’s Oscar-worthiness. First, she says Alec Baldwin’s performance was good. Fair enough, I wouldn’t say it was great, but it seemed decent. Second, the reason that really gets under my skin, is that the film was more tolerable than most movies made for kids. Again, I am 90% certain that Peyser was trolling when she wrote that, but it brings up a larger problem that I have with this mindset.
Being tolerable does not make a film worthy of praise or an Oscar. That is not the standard for adults and it should not be the standard for children either. It’s hypocrisy to push the boundary for adults while pushing only okay on children. Contrary to popular belief, most children are much smarter than people think they are. They deserved to be challenged as much as adults do. They want to be challenged as much as adults do. They don’t want to be talked down to or infantilized. They want to watch things they’ll enjoy as kids and adults.
Some of the best art is art that kids and adults can enjoy. Mark Twain would call it water. This water may be simpler, but people will go back to it for their entire lives. It doesn’t need the alcoholic substances of wine or beer to be good. It is fine the way it is. That is why the parables of Jesus, “Star Wars,” Disney animated movies, Don Bluth movies, and more recently, “Avatar: the Last Airbender” can be enjoyed by both audiences. They have messages that apply to both without excluding either. Kids need more movies like that, not slop that is only “tolerable”.