The review is part of our coverage for Cinepocalypse 2018.
With enough creativity, you can do pretty much anything you want in a film. It might not seem like a good idea to others, but that doesn’t mean such skepticism can’t be overcome if the project is done well. One of the year’s biggest successes, A Quiet Place, is basically a silent film, for instance.
But I’m not sure anyone will ever truly pull off what The Cop Baby attempts. Essentially the plot involves an older, grizzled-ass cop who must solve a major crime while being magically trapped inside the body of a one-year-old. The issue isn’t so much with Cop Baby’s wacky concept but its execution. It may be 2018, but having an old man’s voice come out of the CG’d face of an infant remains ill-advised.
Russian director Alexander Andrushenko has done it anyway. The results are strange, but perhaps not as strange as you’d expect. The little talking baby remains unsettling throughout, but the film’s gentle nature and simple narrative soften the novelty almost to the point of boredom.
What we’re left with is a limp family film, something just slightly off from the kind of stuff most of us ignore out of Hollywood. The Cop Baby needs his weakling of a dad to toughen-up and help solve a crime so he can get back in his old body (which, by the way, is currently housing the brain of the actual baby - something the film definitely could have explored more). Their misadventures occasionally bring them into adult situations (a visit to a strip club, an accidental dosage of drugs) that the film treats with the same silliness of its diaper jokes. I appreciate the weirdness of a scene where the Cop Baby wants to be in the room while his parents have sex, but I also wish the movie capitalized on that weirdness instead of just casually dropping it in there like it’s totally normal or cute. It’s a film geared for children that only adults really have a chance to enjoy, which means very few people are likely to get what they’d want out of this.
Nevertheless, The Cop Baby’s central conceit is one you have to see to believe. You probably don’t need to experience its full 90-minute runtime though. The novelty is better served in small nuggets that allow you to marvel at its existence without having to actually take in the whole story. Weird or not, it still becomes a chore to watch, no matter how many times that baby pees against a wall while talking like a grizzled gangster. Okay, that part was funny.