Movie Review: The Boss (2016)

The Boss is an uneven comedy that coasts on the enormous goodwill earned by its star, Melissa McCarthy. It’s about the fall and rise of Michelle Darnell, a wealthy businesswoman with no family or personal connections. She's like a Tony Stark-Suze Orman combo minus the tech genius and philanthropy. Thanks to her former assistant Claire, played capably by Kristen Bell, Darnell gets back on her feet, overcomes her most persistent rival (Tyrion Lannister), and realizes the importance of family and friendship blah blah blah

Let's get right to it: the writing relies too heavily on McCarthy’s comedy powers, which are strong enough to distract on first viewing. Darnell is a broadly sketched-out stereotype of a business mogul, disdainful of the ordinary and hungry for profits. She drives the plot by persuading Claire, an excellent baker, to be her partner for her new brownie empire. For her brownie salespeople, she recruits girls through Claire’s daughter Rachel.

These are the best comedic segments of the movie, with a standout performance by Annie Mumolo (who co-wrote Bridesmaids) as Helen, the uptight mom who objects to Darnell’s…very existence, I think. The girls who play Darnell’s Darlings are adorable, even the fearsome giant Chrystal (Eva Peterson).

Another cute part of the film is the romance between Claire and her coworker Mike (Tyler Labine), a late addition to the party who helps make it funnier. The movie also makes it clear that being a single mom is tough, and a nursing bra (!) is among the things that bring that point across.

Finally, the bits between Darnell and the women who were there for her – Sister Aluminata (Margo Martindale) in her youth and Ida Marquette (Kathy Bates) who served as her mentor in business – are touching and help underline how and why Darnell became so successful in her work but not her personal life.

That said, The Boss has a lot of weaknesses. What don’t work are: 1) Peter Dinklage’s weird antagonist character Renault/Ron and his equally odd assistant – the villain needs to equal the hero, and Ron is just a lunatic; 2) Cecily Strong as Claire’s new boss – I’m a fan of the woman, but so far only Kristen Wiig has successfully pulled off Super Awkward Awful Person at Work (see Knocked Up); 3) the teeth whitening sketch – cut it in half and then later let us know why Tito bailed! I love Tito!

Overall, it’s an okay movie that could’ve used better writing rather than letting its star do the heavy lifting. I was hoping for something as awesome as Spy, but hey, Ghostbusters is coming up, and I’m sure that’ll deliver!

Bonus: Here's a Google Autosearch interview of Bell and McCarthy. You're welcome!

TL;DR: Rent it or just watch the trailers for all the funny bits. 

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