The Boss Review
THE BOSS FINDS LAUGHS IN
AMIDST WEAK STORY AND SCRIPT
Melissa McCarthy has become a staple of recent comedy movies of being both big (rotund) and foul-mouthed throughout her roles and movies. Using 2011’s Bridesmaids as her break-out role, McCarthy has unleashed her “potty” mouth angst to moviegoers everywhere with such hits as 2013s buddy cope movie The Heat and 2015s spoof of the spy genre in Spy, and even future forecasting with the all-female reboot of this year’s Ghostbusters (the jury is out on this one). On the other hand, McCarthy still has some comedic misfire movies like 2013’s Identity Thief and 2014’s Tammy. Thus, like a lot of actors, McCarthy has some lows as well as highs. Now Universal Pictures and director Ben Falcone bring forth the latest comedy angst of McCarthy with the movie The Boss. Is this movie really in charge or is it a low point in McCarthy body of work?
Having growing up in an orphanage and being rejected by several foster families, Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy) has turned her life around and become a wealthy self-help mogul, delivering financial success and advice to millions of fans everywhere. With Claie (Kristen Bell), her loyal assistant to keep the crass self-caring woman on point, Michelle is ready to expand her empire and relish the opportunity that lies ahead of her. Unfortunately, when an incident involving insider trading, Michelle is stripped of her wealth and privileges and sentence to prison, ending her thriving business. Emerging from her sentence, Michelle heads to Claire’s apartment, trying to secure a place to stay with her former assistant and warming up to Claire’s daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson). Without a purpose for a future, Michelle suddenly sparks to the idea of salesmanship within Rachel’s Girl Scout-esque troop (The Dandelions), dreaming up a plan to sell brownies crafted by Claire to the masses. With the taste of success, Michelle and her fellow Brownie troops rise to the top, only to be challenged by her ex-boyfriend and formable business rival, Renault (Peter Dinklage).
THE GOOD / THE BAD
As I said above, Melissa McCarthy has become a sort of “tour de force” in recent years, making her mark on the comedy genre. Whether you’re a fan of her or not, McCarthy sure knows how to generate laughs within a movie (whether she’s starring in it as a central character or a supporting one). Like many, my two favorite movies of her are The Heat and Spy (I probably like Spy a little bit more because it has a little more story to it). When I saw the trailer for The Boss, I was like “this movie looks funny. Definitely going to be seeing this” and this, of course, lead to me seeing the movie in theaters. In a nutshell, The Boss, proves to have plenty of McCarthy’s crude jokes and gags, but lacks a good narrative and substance to the feature’s proceedings.
Interestingly, The Boss is directed by Ben Falcone, who is Melissa McCarthy’s husband. Falcone, who’s done a number of appearance in on TV, also directed Tammy as well as made cameos in his wife’s films (including this one as Michelle’s attorney). Both McCarthy and Falcone also collaborate on The Boss’s script, with additional help from Steve Mallory and seem to know to play to McCarthy’s strengths and yet also towards its own downfall (more on that in the below). This being a McCarthy movie, most of the comedic is gear towards her, allowing her to the central figure of it all and brings the laughs. There’s a lot of play with improvisatory-style performances from cast as well as a couple comedy scenes that work well (the battle royale scene between the Dandelions and Darnell’s Brownies is hilarious). As for the movie’s comedy, it’s pretty straightforward R-rated comedy with a plethora of crass and crude jokes, but nothing that’s extremely racy or offensive. On the whole, its pretty good, with a couple of misfires along the way or don’t even get off the ground.
In terms of aesthetic, The Boss doesn’t really scream “creativity” as the film is the standard-base comedy that many studios are churning out nowadays. This means that everything from camera angles and shots and transitions are on par for the genre and nothing really to wowed about. I’m not saying its bad thing (it keeps up the standard of appearances), but The Boss is nothing creative or even sophisticated in terms of its filmmaking or cinematography. In addition, Falcone keeps The Boss simplistic in nature. Meaning that the movie doesn’t go off on a tangent and mostly keeps to the central story at play (no diverging off the path for minor pointless side stories).
The problem with The Boss is that, while its premise is accommodating to McCarthy, it’s so much as strong narrative to tell. It just simply lacks both substance and depth, feeling some flat and generic. It’s not the most engaging story to tell and its clearly obvious that both Falcone and McCarthy are banking on the character of Michelle Darnell to elevate the movie, which it does to a certain degree, but one individual (be it actress or character role) shouldn’t carry the movie. In addition, most of the common standard troupes of these types of movies (familiar drama beats, plot-twists, and overall resolution) are to be found in The Boss (again, making the film feel predictable and a tad generic).
As for the cast, Melissa McCarthy does lead the charge in the movie as the snarky foul-mouth character of Michelle Darnell. While the movie’s plot lacks a narrative depth, McCarthy is then delegated to provide the bulk of the comedy in The Boss as well as lending some emotional weight to the proceedings. McCarthy’s Michelle is nothing reinvent from her previous roles (being a little rotund and crass), but it’s her signature style and definitely works. In general, I believe some of the funniest bits is always seeing McCarthy’s character “ripping” up someone up verbally. Thus, if you her in The Heat and Spy, you’ll find plenty of that in The Boss, with McCarthy having fun done so and (if you’re not a fan of her) there’s not much to change your mind in this movie. Again, McCarthy does what she does best in The Boss and might vary from viewer to viewer.
Kristen Bell is primarily the straight-arrow individual in the movie as the good-spirted and good nature Claire. Her and McCarthy do have a chemistry, so their scene with one another are, overall, pretty good. The only problem is that her character is pretty vanilla (bland) and Bell doesn’t really bring anything unique (whether comedy or drama) and could’ve been easy replaces by someone else, without hindering the movie or her character. In short, Bell does a serviceable job in The Boss (just not the greatest). As the youngest member of the principal cast, Ella Anderson’s Rachel as some on-screen dynamics with both McCarthy and Bell and her overall performance and likeability are positive and well-placed.
Game of Thrones stat Peter Dinklage gets a chance to show off his zany comedy antics in The Boss, proving to have a couple of scene stealers in the movie. Beyond that, Dinklage is slightly unimpressive as the movie’s antagonist in the form of Renault. In actuality, who proves much better in the movie is Tyler Labine. Labine, who’s known for his role in Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, plays Mike, Claire’s coworker / love interest, and while he doesn’t have a great character backstory, he succeeds at what he’s given and does shine towards the film’s third act. The rest of the cast, including Cecily Strong, Kirsten Schaal, Annie Mumolo, and Kathy Bates provide their talents, but are mostly window-dressing caricatures for the movie, helping it along with several scenes and scenarios.
Melissa McCarthy brings the laughs in the movie The Boss. Falcone’s comedy movie sure does have its moments of belly-laughs (with McCarthy at the helm to the guide the feature forward) as well as some of the performances from her supporting cast. However, the movie lacks a thematic substance and depth to really drive home the narrative, making the movie, more or less, thin and passable mediocre story. Personally, I think movie was okay and had its laughable moments. It wasn’t McCarthy’s best film to date nor was it her worst (I still think that belongs to Tammy). That being said, I would say that The Boss is not a “must-see” in theaters (unless your die-hard McCarthy fan) and is an iffy-choice at best. If you walk into this movie and not expecting a whole lot (nothing fresh or inventive and just for a crass R-rated laughs), then The Boss might be towards your liking and worth investing the money to see Michelle Darnell’s latest business venture unfold.
3.2 Out of 5 (Iffy Choice)
Released On: April 8th, 2016
Reviewed On: April 9th, 2016
The Boss is rated R for sexual content, language and brief drug use