You know what I’m getting bored of? Watching Melissa McCarthy movies and cringing. As a huge Gilmore Girls fan I’ve loved her from way before Bridesmaids propelled her into the big time. She’s an adorable, funny, intelligent and beautiful performer. It’s just a shame she never gets the chance/gives herself the chance to show it. To be fair, she has surprised me with the likes of The Heat, which I found funnier than I thought I would. However, for every jewel in the crown there are at least 3 stones with massive flaws. Unlike most of the internet, I’m still hopeful about Ghostbusters and have faith that McCarthy will one day get the roles she deserves. Until then I’m stuck watching shit like The Boss.
Although, there is obviously a demand for films in which McCarthy demonstrates her now standard practice of shouting, punching people, pratfalling and swearing. It’s what she’s been doing ever since she left Stars Hollow behind her and is clearly a tactic that she isn’t willing to drop any time soon. I’m not saying it isn’t something that she doesn’t do well but I do think she’s pushing herself into a hole she soon won’t be able to crawl out of. I the right hands, mainly those of Paul Fieg, she can and has done remarkably funny things. Left to her own and, in this case, her husband’s devices McCarthy never quite manages to reach perfection.
In the boss, much like in the dismal Identity Thief, McCarthy plays a lonely sociopath who has great skills in one area but is otherwise shit at life. Her character here, Michelle Darnell, is a tycoon of the business world and attempts to teach people to go out and get what they want. She heads massive seminars that look more like stadium tours and makes massive business deals between helicopter rides. When she is caught doing some dodgy deals by her rival Reanult (Peter Dinklage), Darnell is sent to prison for four months.
When she gets out of the clink, Michelle embarks on a scheme to regain her wealth with the help of her ex-assistant Claire (Kristen Bell) and her daughter Rachel. Inspired by a girl scouts-esque group selling thousands of dollars worth of cookies, Michelle starts her own troupe selling Claire’s delicious homemade brownies. Obviously, things don’t run smoothly and the gang encounter turf warfare, backstabbing and dirty play. All the while being careful to prevent Renault destroying her once more.
There is nothing unsurprising about The Boss and the plot meanders along as you would guess. I say meanders because it seems to take a fucking age to get there. This is a pretty short film but everything seems to take way longer than it should. I don’t really understand how scenes can drag whilst the end result still feels so full of holes. To be fair to the script, the plot is focused and sticks to what it wants to achieve. Unfortunately, it never seems sure of what that is. The tone flip flops depending on where the comedy is coming from and Michelle’s character goes from an utter imbecile to a calculating genius in the blink of an eye. The Boss is never sure if she’s a cold, cut-off figure or an emotional and caring agony aunt.
Basically, this is a film that was written to allow Melissa McCarthy to be as vile as humanly possible to a group of teenage girls. The characters or the concepts don’t really come into play. The script just manufactures situations in which she can call young girls lesbians as an insult and threaten their mothers. When the sheer volume of violence and swearing fails to draw a laugh then we fall back onto the old faithful physical comedy. If there’s a dip in the action then god knows Melissa is willing to fall down a fucking flight of stairs. What a trooper.
None of the this really makes sense and nobody’s motivations are ever really clear. Michelle wants to make money yet she’s more than willing to give most of the money raised to other people. She is a ruthless tycoon who hates family but she readily bonds with Claire’s daughter without any trouble. Then there is Peter Dinklage’s Renault who hates Michelle and plots her downfall. Although, there is never really enough justification for the level of super evil to which he aspires. I say aspires because Renault is the shittest villain imaginable and even more of an embarrassing role for Dinklage than the one he played in fucking Pixels.
That’s the thing about The Boss. Every one who played a part in it could and should have done better. Nobody comes out of this looking good. McCarthy gives it her all but with the lousy script and terrible premise, she never gets the material to really shine. You can’t fault her energy or passion but it’s not enough. Under the direction of her husband, Ben Falcone, she just flounders. It made me uncomfortable to watch this film and it had nothing to do with the vulgarity. I’m tired of seeing actors I love and respect doing such utter shit. It has to stop.