Tweetable Takeaway: “The Boss” is a half step above “Tammy”…but just watch “Spy” instead. Tweet
If you go into THE BOSS expecting Spy-level hilarity, you might be disappointed to get a few giggles and couple of laugh-out-loud moments, as Melissa McCarthy’s latest is a been-there-done-that story filled with jokes that fall flat far more often than they serve their comedic purpose. What’s worse, though, is the film’s inability to balance its more heartfelt themes with its crude brand of comedy.
The movie opens with Michelle Darnell (McCarthy) as a little girl being returned to a foster home like a piece of merchandise after a family felt like she wasn’t a good fit. The same scenario is played again five years after that…and then another five years after that. At this point, we get it: no family wants her. As soon as she’s old enough to flip the bird and tell her last family “f*ck you,” she does. This lays the foundation of Michelle’s heartless “I don’t need anyone” attitude.
Fast forward years later and she is now a wealthy mogul who puts on extravagant pyrotechnic-filled seminars where she raps with T Pain and an army of background dancers while giving people advice on how to get rich. With her loyal underpaid and under-appreciated homely assistant with a heart of gold, Claire (Kristen Bell) at her side, she is unstoppable — until she gets busted for insider trading. She is shipped off to white-collar prison for five months and returns only to find that she is broke as a joke and homeless. The only person who is willing – albeit reluctantly – to take her in is Claire and her young daughter, Rachel (Ella Anderson). And there’s your comedic premise.
After Michelle attempts to reconnect with colleagues she’s screwed over and gets through a few ‘Odd Couple’ moments with Claire, she makes a plan to get back in the game by building a brownie empire through Rachel’s Girl Scout-esque Dandelion troop, which leads to a bunch of shenanigans that, in theory, make this movie a comedy.
The track record for comedic collaborations between McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone have been lukewarm at best. Falcone, who directed and co-wrote The Boss with McCarthy, also helmed Tammy – another comedy that failed to make the most of either McCarthy or Falcone’s talent. Based on the trailer, The Boss is set up to be a big, broad, laugh-riot. The story, however, ends up wobbling about like an inappropriate drunk aunt.
Michelle’s selfishness and unfiltered personality is reiterated throughout the entire movie and McCarthy is a pro at keeping it from going overboard — but if she would have added one more smidge of delusional insanity to the role, the movie may have not been so disposable. Even so, the movie shines when McCarthy is shooting scorching insults at the other characters — something I could watch on repeat all day.
The rest of cast includes some familiar comedic cameos, including Kristen Schaal, Cecily Strong, Michael McDonald and Timothy Simons. Annie Mumolo (Bridesmaids) even pops up as the uptight mom/rival to Michelle. And then there’s Peter Dinklage, who plays Michelle’s former Japanophile lover — hands down the MVP scene stealer of this movie. But not even Tyrion Lannister could save this lackluster comedy.
Paralleling the ’80s comedy Troop Beverly Hills starring Shelly Long, The Boss had plenty of potential have struck cookie gold with its premise. But the humor is misguided and the story is too typical to even be remotely interesting — and that feels like a serious disappointment given a cast this talented. The movie attempts to skate by on charm rather than balancing its crude comedy with some real heart. It was those familial moments between Bell, McCarthy and Anderson which gave the movie purpose, a refreshing dose of humanity amid the rest of the humdrum comedy. We needed more of that. But in the end, the filmmakers seemed to say, “Oh wait! We were so busy writing mediocre jokes that we forgot to wrap up the family stuff,” and therefore shoehorned an unearned emotional resolution into the final few minutes of the movie. Regardless of its ending, The Boss is essentially about McCarthy in a red Suze Orman wig hurling insults at children and lowering their self-esteem — which is fine, I guess.
Score: 2 out of 5
Dino-Ray Ramos watches too much TV and laughs inappropriately during dramatic films. He’s a fan of comedy, podcasts, and comedy podcasts. He’s a reformed comic book geek and thinks “The Goonies” is the best movie of all time. When he isn’t stuffing his face with a burrito, he’s thinking about his next trip to Disneyland.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer