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The Boss Baby

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In defense of Boss Baby, the best movie to watch on an airplane

We have studies to prove it!

Dreamworks Animation

Polygon is kicking off its best of entertainment series, which will run through the end of December and beginning of January, coming to a close just before the 2017 Golden Globes. These personal essays will examine the best, most important and weirdest moments that occurred in television, film, streaming and YouTube/Twitch in 2017. Each will examine why the author believes that moment to be one of 2017’s most extraordinary. The series will end with Polygon’s Best of TV and Best of Movies pieces.


Not everyone is a fan of Alec Baldwin’s animated comedy, The Boss Baby, but then again, not everyone has watched The Boss Baby while flying.

Qantas, an Australian airline, published a blog post last week detailing the most-watched movies and TV shows passengers picked while flying. The Boss Baby, a movie about a diabolical baby who tries to fit in with his new family, striking up a problematic relationship with his brother, was in the top spot. Although it was just one airline who supplied viewership data, shaming all of its passengers with their playback results, it affirmed my position that The Boss Baby is a good-hearted, easy-to-digest movie that doesn’t deserve the scorn it’s received.

In other words, other people were watching The Boss Baby (and probably enjoying it) too.

I’ve spent the majority of the year defending The Boss Baby, a movie that I unapologetically adore. When I’m trying to sell it to unconvinced co-workers, I always use flying as the perfect excuse to watch it. Maybe it has to do with being 30,000 feet in the air and having less oxygen flow to our brains, but The Boss Baby isn’t just funnier while flying, it’s also one of the more enjoyable movie watching experiences you can have.

When I’m setting in for a flight, there are a couple of thoughts that run through my head: “I hope this person next to me isn’t carrying some form of incurable disease that can be transferred by the slightest of touches” and “I need to find a movie that will be entertaining to watch while not traumatizing the three-year-old leering over the seat.” Since I use Air Canada to fly more often than not when visiting my parents in Toronto, that means I sometimes have to ignore the tempting Insecure, Girls or Game of Thrones episodes all neatly lined up in Air Canada’s HBO offerings and pick a more kid-friendly title.

The first time that I watched The Boss Baby on a plane, this was the conundrum I found myself in. I was on my way back from Portland, Oregon and had roughly six-and-a-half hours to kill. There was a small boy sitting next to me who was obsessed with what his father and I were watching on our individual monitors. I felt bad putting on anything that could be even semi-violent or contain an inch of nudity (sorry, Sleepless in Seattle) so I decided to put on The Boss Baby.

I watched it twice during that flight.

The Boss Baby is so strange and befuddling that I had to watch it a second time just to ensure I hadn’t missed anything the first time around. I became intoxicated by Alec Baldwin’s strangest movie to date, which is saying something considering he also starred in Aloha, and that spurred a painless second watch-through.

The kid beside me had also become engrossed with The Boss Baby, and managed to bug his father enough to get it set up on his own screen. Like a scene out of Black Mirror, I noticed there were a few other adults watching The Boss Baby on their tiny screens situated in the back their seats as I got up to use the restroom.

What I’m sure started off as a way for parents to keep their children busy and quiet during long flights across the country soon turned into half-hazardous viewing habits of curious adults. There’s something soothing about being able to watch a weird movie while trapped in a WiFi-devoid airplane and not having to worry about those around you peeking at your screen.

Again, The Boss Baby isn’t an Oscar-nominated movie*, but there’s something hypnotizing about watching a baby-version of Alec Baldwin act like his 30 Rock character, Jack Donaghey. The movie is so set in its absurdity that YouTubers managed to find a way to turn it into one of 2017’s most annoying jokes on the platform.

While I would never recommend that the weak of heart spend their Friday night in by ordering a pizza from Papa John’s and watching The Boss Baby, if you’re traveling 30,000 feet off the ground and need something to help kill the hours before you reach your destination, The Boss Baby isn’t a bad choice at all. I’d argue it’s one of the best choices you can make.

Take it from someone who watched The Boss Baby six times in the span of a few months; it just gets weirder and more enjoyable every single time.

[*It hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar yet, but with a Golden Globe nomination under its belt, there’s a good chance we could see The Boss Baby take home film’s most prestigious award.]