Directed by Ben Falcone
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Peter Dinklage & Kristen Bell
Film Review by Kieran Freemantle
Your enjoyment of Melissa McCarthy's The Boss will depend on whether you find swearing in front of children and vulgarity funny. If not then The Boss will be a painful experience for you.
McCarthy stars as Michelle Darnell, the 47th richest woman in America who is willing to step over anyone to succeed in business. But Michelle crossed the wrong person when she uses insider information to stop a rival (Peter Dinklage) and he gets her arrested. After being sentence for five months in a minimum security prison Michelle is left broke and homeless and goes to her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell) for help. With Claire, Michelle plans her comeback, using Claire's brownie recipe and a new troop of Girl Scouts to get back to the top.
The Boss has the same basic premise as 2 Broke Girls where a rich woman looses everything and convinces an unconfident woman that she has a product that could sell. When a film has a similar set-up to one of the worst sitcoms currently on TV it should have been scrapped or at least started again from scratch.
There are differences between the CBS sitcom (on E4 in the UK) and The Boss: Michelle and Claire are older than Max and Caroline, the former rich person is the crude one of the pair and Claire has a more down-to-Earth personality and there is much less focus on pop-culture and hipster jokes. Instead The Boss double downs on sex jokes and profundity for its 'humour'. Michelle swears and says inappropriate things like sex acts to children and that in itself is a joke. Even the most opened minded person would have objections about using swearing in front of children as a gag.
Since the success of Bridemaids, Melissa McCarthy has become overexposed. She does two styles of comedy; being meek, sweet like she was in Gilmore Girls or as crass as possible. It's a shtick that gets old very quickly and McCarthy offers little invention or variation to this type of comedy. She is becoming the female Adam Sandler. There is the occasional chuckle on offer but that’s usually based on a reaction to Michelle, like Claire seeing the designs for Darnell's Darlings and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil's Tyler Labine breaking the fourth wall when Michelle describes her heist plan.
McCarthy was surrounded by a decent cast and they look bewildered as to how they ended up in this movie. Bell asks 'what's happening' during the film's climax and that sums up her thought process during The Boss. One of the best examples is the scene where Melissa plays with Claire's bra and followed by McCarthy ad-libbing about each other's breasts. Peter Dinklage has shown despite his fame in Game of Thrones that he has poor taste for comedy, following Pixels with this. Dinklage has shown himself to be a talented actor and voice actor but he was poor in The Boss, playing a softly spoken businessman who is obsessed with Japanese culture. The only real plus is he's playing a character who happens to have dwarfism, not a dwarf character. Dinklage's assistant was similar to Marc St. James in Ugly Betty. Kathy Bates appears in the film for two scenes and it wouldn't be surprising if her material was cut.
Claire also says the line 'you are such a cliché' to Michelle and that is a great way to sum up the plot of the film; clichéd. The Boss is a film made up of predictable plot points and lazy screenwriting. My personal favourite was a misunderstanding between the lead characters leading to Michelle betraying her friend. The Boss attempts a theme that Michelle was rejected as a child and that was the catalyst for why she went into business and become a remorseless bitch. It's screenwriting 101 where the lead character is aiming for something she wants (becoming a business tycoon) but what she needs something else (a family). The Boss is unsubtle with these ideas.
The Boss’ central premise revolves around Michelle making her own version of the Girl Scouts where the girls can make commission from their brownie sales and save for their college funds. The film tries to put a nice spin on this idea but in reality Michelle is using unpaid children as her work force and it becomes a distraction when thinking about the broken child labour laws.
The Boss is a typical mainstream R-rated Hollywood comedy, a hackneyed piece of work that relies on its big name star to make up for the lack of a screenplay and feels that swearing is enough to substitute a joke.