3 Movies Like The Boss Baby (2017)

Staff & contributors

A portrait of an Alabama high school wrestling team springboards from a sports documentary into an encompassing exploration of the American working class and institutional racism. The film operates on both levels as it zooms in on the lives of four students and their friendly yet overbearing coach. From the opening moments, Coach Sribner makes it clear that the State Championship is about much more than sport. A failing and underfunded school system all but ensures that a sports scholarship is one of the few chances for these youth to have access to higher education and a path out of poverty. 

This is further exacerbated by the racial dynamics at play, as we watch these mostly Black youth experience casual racism as well as institutional harassment from the police. Even their well-meaning coach is not exempt, he at once can acknowledge his white privilege but is not above baselessly accusing one of the boys of stealing his sunglasses. Herbert’s up close and personal style is immersive and passionate and builds to an exciting sports film climax while maintaining a piercing awareness of the severe economic realities that hollow out any victory on the mat.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Chris Scribner, Jailen Young, Jaquan Rhodes, Teague Berres

Director: Suzannah Herbert

American Girl follows 13-year-old Fen as she returns to Taiwan from the US and tries to make sense of a culture that’s supposedly her own. In addition to her awkward but relatable attempts to understand identity and adolescence, Fen also struggles to connect with her mother Lily, whose own problems further push her away from her teenage daughter. If you’ve seen Lady Bird, you may recognize a bit of Christine and Marion in Fen and Lily as they throw themselves into an endless tug-of-war of emotions. Their fights are genuinely frustrating, but only because of how true-to-life they are.

As painful as it sometimes is to see them clash, it’s their love-hate dynamic that charges much of the film’s emotional energy and makes it ultimately irresistible to watch. 

Genre: Drama, Family

Actor: Blaire Chang, Bowie Tsang, Caitlin Fang, Hsia Yu-chiao, Jia-Yin Tsai, Kaiser Chuang, Karena Lam, Karena Lam Kar-Yan, Ming-shiou Tsai, Teng-Hui Huang, Winnie Chang, Winnie Shih-Ying Chang

Director: Feng-I Fiona Roan, Fiona Roan

Rating: Not Rated

Lighthearted, inspirational, and warm, True Spirit is the real life story of how the young Jessica Watson circumnavigated the world. Through YouTube-esque vlogs and scribbled out title cards, the film follows the real-life journey, alternating between the sailor with the situation back home, as her mentor and family keep track of her current progress. Inspired by the book, the film fairly sticks to the facts written in her travelogue, but True Spirit mostly plays out the same way a Disney Channel Original Movie would, with its young protagonist setting out for a whimsical adventure, just for the sake of it. It makes for a beautiful film with stunning views and heartwarming messages about perseverance, but it’s more an easy cruise than a daring adventure, as it plays out without any courage in its approach.

Genre: Adventure, Drama, History

Actor: Alice Tate, Alyla Browne, Anna Paquin, Bridget Webb, Chris Hillier, Cliff Curtis, James McGrady, Jessica Watson, Joey Vieira, Josephine Flynn, Josh Lawson, Ling Cooper Tang, Molly Belle Wright, Nikhil Singh, Shanyn Asmar, Stacy Clausen, Teagan Croft, Todd Lasance, Vivien Turner

Director: Sarah Spillane

Rating: PG