The Boss has a throwaway script meant to capitalize on Melissa McCarthy’s brand of humor but misuses it, turning the movie into a generic, predictable and negligible dramedy lead by a tiresome one-dimensional she-devil.
A titan of industry (Melissa McCarthy) is sent to prison after she’s caught for insider trading. When she emerges ready to rebrand herself as America’s latest sweetheart, not everyone she screwed over is so quick to forgive and forget.
The Boss uses Melissa McCarthy’s shtick for the better and for the worst.
There’s an interesting dynamic between unapologetic assholes and the people who are drawn to them. In the first half of the film, Michelle instructs a stadium packed audience to discard anyone who’s a dead weight. By the way, this happens after a sing and dance number in which she descends to the stage while riding a phoenix to the tune of “All I do is Win” by T Pain.
Melissa McCarthy, one of the few who actresses in Hollywood who doesn’t fit the required standard but still get jobs, is comfortable in a role that she wrote in a script with husband Ben Falcone. She’s joined by a reliable supporting cast including Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage, Tyler Labine, and newcomer Ella Anderson.
Unfortunately, the movie insists on being a Melissa McCarthy showcase that all of these potential elements are taken for granted. Worse, the movie misuses McCarthy’s brand of humor, turning her into a tiresome character that’s as unfunny and one-dimensional like the rest of the players.
The movie shifts gears in the second half where The Boss turns into a dramedy about family, belonging and empowerment. There’s nothing wrong with these themes. The problem is they’re underwritten in a story that’s as generic as a Hallmark card. As a kid, Michelle Darnell is dropped off in front of the orphanage after her family of the year returns her like damaged goods. Naturally, she turns into a selfish self-absorbed narcissist. She’s an ambitious woman who has no qualms of stepping over anyone for her own self-interest, until a tacky but well-meaning framed picture melted her stone cold heart.
McCarthy’s brand of humor doesn’t fit in this feel-good movie, resulting into tonal shifts that prevents the whole narrative from coming together. For example, the ridiculous moments of physical comedy that you would expect from a McCarthy vehicle, such as a showdown between two competing girl scout groups and a samurai sword fight, is inconsistent. The kids are well-tempered outside of it and the villain is a foppish tycoon.
The rest of the cast doesn’t have much to do here. McCarthy’s previous roles in Bridesmaids and Spy worked because her easily aggravating role is tempered by other amusing characters. Here Kristen Bell, who plays as the “straight man” against McCarthy’s over-the-top mogul, has nothing to do. Peter Dinklage does his best even with vapor thin material, but his efforts are wasted. There are also interesting minor characters here such as Darnell’s mentor and assistant, but they’re underused.
In the end, we can all agree that Melissa McCarthy should stop making movies with her husband and stick with Paul Feig. The Boss is not a convincing drama and not much of a comedy. It’s Tammy 2.0.
My Rating: 3/10