This animated movie buries the whimsical elements of the tale under an avalanche of poop jokes and action-movie clichés. Rating: 1 star out of 4.

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A baby. In a business suit. Wearing a wristwatch. And a smirk.

He’s the boss baby. He’s driving his poor parents to exhaustion. He’s driving his 7½-year-old brother to distraction. The tiny menace is absconding with the parents’ affections, informing his older sibling “there’s only so much love to go around,” and he, the little squirt, intends to corner the market.

Movie Review ★  

‘The Boss Baby,’ with the voices of Alec Baldwin, Miles Bakshi, Steve Buscemi, Lisa Kudrow, Jimmy Kimmel. Directed by Tom McGrath, from a screenplay by Michael McCullers, based on a book by Marla Frazee. 97 minutes. Rated PG for some mild rude humor. Several theaters.

Not nice!

That goes double for “The Boss Baby.”

Adapted from a slender children’s book of the same title by Marla Frazee, this animated picture from DreamWorks crushes all the whimsy out of Frazee’s story with an avalanche of crudity. It’s got poop jokes and other nether-region-situated gags galore. Plus: standard-issue action-movie clichés. Hey, look! A car chase! And over there! A mushroom cloud arising. And from far out in left field: Elvis impersonators in Vegas!

It seems as if director Tom McGrath and writer Michael McCullers felt Frazee’s tale had insufficient narrative heft to support a full-length feature, so they proceeded to juice it up with all manner of extraneous, heavy-handed nonsense.

The core of the book, how the arrival of a newborn upends the dynamics of a marriage by putting the demands of caring for the infant front and center for the parents, is downplayed in the movie. It instead introduces the brother — a character not in the book — and puts the focus on sibling rivalry.

The boy (voiced by Miles Bakshi) sees and hears what his parents (Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmel, playing cheery dimwits who find nothing strange about a baby in a business suit) do not: The pint-size menace can talk (in Alec Baldwin’s voice), and he’s a devious bully (an exemplar of management, the movie emphasizes). Not only is he dead set on marginalizing his older brother, he’s also bent on enlisting other neighborhood babes in a scheme to somehow destroy the reputation of adorable puppies, who present an existential threat to kiddiekind. They’re “our mortal enemy,” he insists. “This is war. Puppies are winning.”

He manages to wangle his brother into his anti-puppy crusade, and off they go to Vegas to derail a corporate convention of pro-puppy types.

It’s all very bizarrely, pointlessly complicated.