R, 99 mins.
2016, R, 99 mins.
Melissa McCarthy as Michelle Darnell / Peter Dinklage as Renault / Kristen Bell as Claire / Tyler Labine as Mike / Parker Young as Moisa / Ella Anderson as Rachel / Annie Mumolo as Helen / Timothy Simons as Stephan
Directed by Ben Falcone / Written by Ben Falcone, Steve Mallory, and Melissa McCarthy
don’t hate Melissa McCarthy. I really don’t, contrary to what many of you may think.
She’s talented. That much is clear.
Yet, I’ve grown
to despise what’s developing into a laundry list of witless,
puerile, and dreadfully unfunny comedies that’s she’s written, starred
in, and co-produced. Cringe
inducing, laugh-free endurance tests of will like the grotesquely awfully TAMMY
and the equally wretched IDENTITY THIEF
wallowed in portraying the same tired and overused version of the
obligatory McCarthy comedic character – outwardly atrocious, toxically
dislikeable, and verbally abusive slobs that, deep down, just want to be
understood and loved because – gosh darn it! – they're really nice
souls with deeply hidden emotional wounds.
I’m tired of watching the actress lazily parade around in film
after film playing the same sort of clueless, foul mouthed, and
aggressively insolent clown. Even
though recent films like SPY and ST.
VINCENT were reasonable steps in the right career direction for
her, along comes the shockingly tedious and paper thinly plotted THE BOSS
to erode any more good will I could toss her way.
In anything, McCarthy is just going back to the character
snooze-inducing film masquerading as a howl-inducing comedy –
regrettably directed by TOMMY helmer Ben Falcone, also McCarthy’s hubbie
– shows a modicum of promise early on in establishing the origins of the
main character…but that promise erodes pretty damn quickly.
Michelle Darnell (McCarthy) had a sad and impoverished upbringing
in an orphanage; her childhood and adolescence were essentially an uphill
battle of trying to find foster parents that wanted her in their sights
for longer than a day. Realizing
at a tender teenage period of her life that she’s had enough relying on
others, she decides that she will only rely on herself going forward.
Flashforward a few decades and we meet up with Michelle as she’s
become a self made, Fortune 500 millionaire and CEO of her own company
that specializes in dishing out financial advice to her legions of adoring
fans. Life seems to have hit
a high plateau of personal and financial success for her, but fate steps
in rather quickly when the Feds show up at her door and charge her with
insider trading, mostly because of the meddling of a bitter ex-boyfriend
and tycoon Renault (a depressingly unfunny Peter Dinklage).
She’s promptly sent to prison and has all of her assets locked as
With her reign of
business power over, Michelle is released from prison after serving her
sentence and emerges as a rather broken woman. She
immediately seeks out a roof to place over her head by promptly showing up
at the doorstep of her former assistant Claire (a bland and distracted Kristen
Bell), but the latter seems initially hesitant to allow her remarkably demanding
and domineering ex-employer in her home (the screenplay never actually
provides a logical reason why Claire would ever let this crude and
obnoxious woman stay with her for longer than five minutes without being unceremoniously
booted out). At her absolute
rock bottom, Michelle develops a fascination with the business model of
selling Girl Guide Cookies, mostly after attending a meeting with
Claire’s daughter (Ella Anderson).
Realizing that most of the money for selling the cookies doesn’t
go into the Girl Guide seller’s pocket, Michelle concocts a scheme to
start her own young girl troupe called “The Dandelions” to sell
Claire’s homemade fudge brownies to put her back on financial track.
Of course, just when her newfound financial empire is taking off,
Renault swoops in and threatens to take it all away from her…again.
THE BOSS hones its satiric crosshairs on some potentially intriguing targets, like
mercilessly aggressive big fish businesswomen and the whole nature of the
Girl Guide cookie selling empire. Unfortunately, the film has neither the inclination or the
nerve to mock its intended targets with any wit or dry sarcasm, mostly
because of its steadfast determination to be a shrill and one note
exhibition for McCarthy’s hackneyed tomfoolery.
One of the biggest problems with THE BOSS is…well…McCarthy
herself, who proves yet again that she’s often her own worst enemy in
these types of comedic vanity projects.
Much like the characters that populated TAMMY and IDENTITY THIEF,
Michelle here is rarely an agreeable person that deserves our rooting
interest. She’s chronically
self-serving, egoistical, amoral, and has a disturbing potty mouth that
would make Quentin Tarantino wince. There are hardly any moments In THE BOSS when Michelle even
comes off as a fully realized human being: she’s essentially a
cartoonish buffoon and crude caricature, played for maximum, teeth grating
broadness by McCarthy. When
the film does try to impart some dramatic pathos in Michelle’s life and
craves for viewers to sympathize with her, it feels like a sick and
twisted bit of bait and switch; it’s
almost like the movie’s cheating.
You can’t have
a movie that has scenes of Michelle insultingly screaming at others to
“suck my d—k!” and have other instances of her failing down a flight
of stairs in a moment of lame slapstick and then later ask us to identify
with her behavioral issues as part of a dark subjected trauma of growing
up as an orphan. THE BOSS never
once earns such huge tonal shifts, nor does it even make a compelling or
plausible case to make us like Michelle in the slightest.
Her ultimate transformation from a bitch-in-heels tycoon to an
affable and carefree family woman is never, ever remotely credible
during the course of the story, nor is the film’s woefully ridiculous
climax that features – I kid you not – a sword fight involving a
katana set in Renault’s penthouse offices.
Peter Dinklage is a supremely gifted dramatic actor, but watching
him debase himself in comedies like PIXELS
and now THE BOSS is beyond mortifying. He's simply not in his
comfort zone here at all.
Then there’s Kristen Bell, a limitlessly appealing actress that is saddled with a supporting role that anyone capable of standing upright and with a pulse could have pulled off. Seeing good performers wasted is probably not the biggest sin that THE BOSS commits, though. Scatological and profane gags, dreadfully over-the-top performances, and half-hearted themes about the importance of family and feeling loved aside, the film mournfully churns out yet another clichéd McCarthy character that displays an actress that’s pathetically willing to do any debasing thing to score big chuckles...and fails pretty miserably at doing so. There’s an early scene that typifies this film’s utter desperation to inspire laughter, during which time Michelle and her Dandelions squad have an ANCHORMAN-esque street brawl with a group of Girl Guiders. Hardy-fricking-har. Watching young girls pound each other to a pulp is not funny in the slightest, nor is the sight of seeing adults physically beat down on children. THE BOSS heartlessly bludgeons viewers with its unwavering mediocrity for 90-plus minutes.
It's a movie that's 90 minutes too long.