“The Boss Baby: Family Business”: The DreamWorks Movie Uses Cat Stevens

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DreamWorks went cartoonish and surreal with Cat Stevens’ “If You Wanna Sing Sing”.

Since the Oscar “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”, there has been a slight increase in experimenting with more graphic 2D animation styles, including Oscar winner “Soul” and contenders. of this season’s “The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” and “Luca.” You can add “The Boss Baby: Family Business” (opening in theaters and streaming on weekends from Peacock Independence), as DreamWorks leans more on retro fantasy than in the original blockbuster. That’s because director Tom McGrath applied his passion for classic hand-drawn animation as a celebration of childhood imagination.

In fact, the graphically surreal centerpiece revolves around Cat Stevens’ beloved ode to nonconformity, “If You Wanna Sing Sing,” (from “Harold and Maude”) sung by James Marsden and Ariana Greenblatt ( voicing father Tim and daughter Tabitha). Tim is transformed into a child again and joins Tabitha in a pink and purple sea of ​​yellow trumpets and floral shapes, as well as more colorful and dreamy images, reminiscent of Disney’s “Pink Elephants on Parade” from “Dumbo”.

“I wanted this to be a celebration of the imagination in kids,” McGrath said. “The concept was centered on a school where children are forced to grow up too quickly [run by a quirky, nefarious professor voiced by the always delightful Jeff Goldblum]. How long can you keep it? Tim, as a father, worries about moving away from his daughter. The family drama continues through your adult years and the brothers, Tim and Ted [Boss Baby Alec Baldwin], remove. The springboard became to become children of these two men again so that they had to relive their childhood to reconcile their differences, and for Tim and his daughter to reconcile theirs. [with the help of Boss Baby daughter Tina, voiced by Amy Sedaris]. “

The Boss Baby: DreamWorks Family Business Animation

“The Boss Baby: family business”

DreamWorks Animation LLC.

And what better way to bring father and daughter together than with the illustrative power of classic animation and Stevens’ timeless anthem?

“To me, the language of that childhood imagination is a part of the Golden Age animation that I remember watching in a theater, from ‘Fantasia’ to ‘What’s Opera, Doc?’ “McGrath continued.” The kind of thing animation does best is make those worlds feel like they’re in a painting.

“It was just to take what we did in the first movie and push it further and more integrated into the story, especially with ‘Sing Out.’ We could step into this artistic world if we did it right. . And those movies impressed me so much when I was a kid. I just wanted to bring that back to the kids now, so they could hopefully see it in a theater and it would change them as much as it was. for me.

In “Boss Baby”, DreamWorks experimented with brief 2D-looking daydreams and alternate realities inspired by the “Looney Tunes” shorts. McGrath first played with it in the “Madagascar” franchise. This was overseen by animator Andy Schuler, who created his own workflow for designs and backgrounds, with a series of modeling and projection paintings done in modo and Houdini. Schuler exploited and improved this in the following for more elaborate results.

“He has this very childish view of the world and we thought it would be great to have Andy Land,” McGrath said. “A difficult part was that they had to run the film in [stereoscopic] 3D, so everything also had to be volumetric. It was quite a challenge to make it look like a painting and also be able to have left eye / right eye views in sync.

The Boss Baby: DreamWorks Family Business Animation

“The Boss Baby: family business”

DreamWorks Animation LLC

Still, the idea of ​​using “Sing Out” was purely accidental. At first it was used as a temporary piece, with the intention of composing an original song for the sequence with composers Hans Zimmer and Steve Mazzaro. (They already had an original song for the climax, “Divided We Fall, Together We Stand.”)

“The more we listened to it, the more it worked,” McGrath added. “And Hans thought it worked really well and that he knew Cat Stevens and it worked really well.”

There was also a surreal nightmare sequence in the courtroom showing Tim’s anxiety as a stay-at-home dad, but another dream sequence was never incorporated into the final film due to its length.

“This is where Tim saved [Tabitha] of Ted’s sinking yacht because it was filled with gold, ”said the manager. “And then these alien dolphins come out of the water and award him the best daddy coffee mug in the galaxy.” I would love to make a whole movie in that kind of style. The closer animated films get to real action, the more I want to go back in time. “

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