The Boss is a mainstream comedy featuring Melissa McCarthy’s tried-and-tested brand of humour. It’s the second movie collaboration from the actress and her comic husband Ben Falcone, after their work together on 2014’s Tammy. In The Boss, also directed by Falcone, McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, a self-made CEO introduced as “the 47th wealthiest woman in America”.
Clad in a colourful array of shiny orange suits, furs, and turtlenecks by costume designer Wendy Chuck, Michelle apparently earned her fortune by being ruthless and foul-mouthed, before becoming a wildly successful investment guru, as set out in a glitzy opening sequence where she takes the stage to give a motivational speech in the inspirational vein of writer and speaker Tony Robbins.
However, circumstances backfire for Michelle when she’s busted for insider trading and sent to federal prison for four months. After leaving jail, Michelle finds herself broke, homeless and publicly disgraced. Luckily, she tracks down her former assistant Claire Rawlings (Kristen Bell), who she then convinces to help her out.
While staying with Claire, Michelle forges a bond with the assistant’s daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson) and begins accompanying her to meetings with the Dandelions, a Girl Scout-inspired ensemble whose multimillion-dollar cookie sales catch Michelle’s attention. And when it turns out that Claire makes a great brownie, Michelle urges her to quit her dull office job so they can launch a baking venture that will make them both extremely wealthy – and inevitably teach Rachel some valuable life lessons along the way.
While nothing in the narrative is particularly ground-breaking, McCarthy makes all the difference and is responsible for providing the bulk of the comedy, with scenes such as an Anchorman-style street brawl and gags about unreliable sofa beds delivering laughs. Apart from the physical humour, McCarthy nails the delivery of some of her most venomous and expletive-heavy lines to date, somehow always executed with a sweet smile on her face.
She also manages to add emotional weight to her character’s arc, which is quite an achievement considering little of her background is explored in the plot. And while Bell is relegated to playing the voice of reason to McCarthy’s manic Michelle, she delivers an adept performance all the same, and seamlessly manages both serious and comedic moments.
Elsewhere, there are strong performances by Kathy Bates, Kristen Schaal and Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage, who gets the chance to show-off his comedy chops as the vengeful businessman Renault. But it is Canadian actor Tyler Labine, who plays Claire’s affable love interest Mike Beale, who really shines in the flick – when he can get a word in edgeways.
In all, The Boss lacks the depth of McCarthy’s efforts with filmmaker Paul Feig, such as her star-making roles in Bridesmaids and Spy, but the movie remains enjoyable, and in fact, it’s perfectly entertaining popcorn viewing – with McCarthy fans sure to get a kick out of her latest venture.
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