‘The Boss’ Gave Me A Raise In Spirit (Movie Review)

the boss thumbIt is great to be surprisingly entertained by something. I am never seeing a movie with hopes to not enjoy it, but I have been decidedly mixed on the films of Melissa McCarthy. This is why I am so happy to say that I not only enjoyed another movie featuring her in a starring role, but also happened to find her hysterical in it. Maybe I just wanted to laugh, but The Boss won me over like a boss.



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The plot is a hodgepodge of ideas that range from parodying Martha Stewart’s white collar criminal activities to serving as an updated reboot of Troop Beverly Hills. There are a lot of elements that end up feeling somewhat cobbled together in an attempt to make a cohesive narrative, but it matters little because the film is fun. McCarthy stars as Michelle Darnell, an industry titan with a strong mind for business, who is sent to jail for insider trading and forced to start over following her release.

This is the essentially a familiar story of a powerful person being humbled and developing a new appreciation for family, just tailored to McCarthy’s comedic abilities. The results are often quite funny. Written by McCarthy, her husband Ben Falcone (who also directs) and Steve Mallory, The Boss is not afraid to go wacky and I enjoyed the film as a decent farce that threw it all at the wall and managed to make a lot of it stick.

Based on a character originally conceived during her time with the Groundlings, McCarthy is playing a force of a character with a mildly explained backstory that serves as a setup for how intense she is. There is a blend of dialogue and physical humor that moves away from things I haven’t enjoyed as much about some of her past films and finds new shades to work from. The results are pretty good. I may have appreciated Spy more for the supporting cast, but The Boss is a film where McCarthy’s lead performance really made me smile the most.

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Of course, there are plenty of others in this film who provide fine support as well. Kristen Bell is essentially in the straight man role, but she gets a lot of funny material to work with. Peter Dinklage joins as another wacky character and while I was less enthused by him (I think he’s best as an exaggerated version of himself), it’s nice to see him game for something like this. Tyler Labine, Kristen Schaal, Timothy Simons, Cecily Strong, Cedric Yarbrough and Annie Mumalo are all capable comedic character actors stepping up to have fun as well. Praise for Kathy Bates’ small role is deserved as well, as she could very well be the older, wiser version of McCarthy.

I do wish the film had more depth to it. We have some opening scenes, the concept of white collar crime and some commentary on a Girl Scouts-esque group that each could have possibly led to more interesting material, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if there is a lot of deleted material regarding these story ideas, excised for the sake of making a more concise film. At just over 90 minutes, it was actually a relief to see a modern comedy with a big star not over-extending itself for a change.

Keeping things fairly breezy does mean we have a third act that is fairly problematic in terms of the shenanigans that ensue. Suffice it to say, things get very silly when you take away the element that was working the most, Michelle Darnell occupying a world with other seemingly normal people. It still does not take away from how much humor came from this film as a whole, especially during its time spent as a remixed version of Troop Beverly Hills.

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I may have been initially thrown off by seeing Michelle get out of prison pretty quickly in the film, but it finds plenty of great material in her creating a new business by forming her own version of Girl Scouts. A natural and fitting antagonist is created and the laughs stemming from her interactions with children are gold. The Boss may or may not be as accessible as McCarthy’s other comedies, but I was certainly entertained by this storyline and the stuff surrounding it.

The Boss is not aspiring for much thematically, but it takes a movie star and givers her plenty to work with. A fine supporting cast helps as well. Call it a lack of anticipation or low expectations, but the film worked for me. Perhaps not a comedic triumph, but a satisfying entry for a gifted comedian I haven’t had much praise for.

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