A business tycoon loses everything, and finds her comeback story a little elementary. In “The Boss”, the newest film from director and writer Ben Falcone, is about A titan of industry named Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy) who is sent to prison after she’s caught for insider trading that not only ruins her career, but leaves her bankrupt without anything to her name. She is forced to move in with former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell), one of the only friends of Michelle’s who stands by her despite repeatedly being stepped on. When Melissa emerges ready to rebrand herself as America’s latest sweetheart, not everyone she screwed over is so quick to forgive and forget. She finds great opportunity heading a children’s girl scout troop, but money given isn’t as tough as money earned. Along the way, Michelle is forced to give herself a look in the proverbial mirror and awake to the harm she has caused on herself, but the former associates of hers. “The Boss” is rated R for sexual content, drug use, and adult language.
Ben Falcone has followed Melissa McCarthy through films like “Bridesmaids”, “Spy” and “Tammy” (Directed). The husband and wife duo have compiled quite a list of hits and misses throughout their association together, and “The Boss” is one to add to the latter of that scenario. Ben juggles a script that is all over the place, conjuring up three different films by the time the ending credits roll. In 95 minutes, Falcone manages to ignore background exposition for a majority of his important characters, and alienate himself from the audience who thought they knew what kind of film they were in for. When I watched the trailers for this movie, I took in that McCarthy was starring as that bad role model type, and that the entire presentation of the movie was based on a “Troop Beverly Hills” gone bad. Boy was I wrong. That story arc is only a fraction of the bigger picture in “The Boss”, and while it does get some time donated to it, we know nothing about these girls because the movie chews them up when the script needs them, and then tosses them out when the girl scouts thing becomes stale. We don’t even see McCarthy recruiting them. They just show up in the next scene surrounding her, and we’re supposed to not care because Melissa is where it’s at. If I credit Falcone for anything, it’s in the eye-opening realization on just how big of a scam Girls Scouts sales can be. The film presents ideas like letting the girls profit 10% of what they sell, as well as another 10% for their college funds. They are working for these sales, so how come nobody in the real world has thought about this?
As for the material, this Falcone/McCarthy schtick is really starting to wear itself thin. Falcone writes a lot of material for his wife, and the format is getting a bit repetitive when you play bingo with Melissa’s every movie cliches. One thing that made “Spy” stand out so much last year was that it was a spoof of the spy genre that also had Melissa McCarthy in it. She was the main character, but the movie didn’t revolve around her. Going into films like this one, I can expect three things from Melissa. 1) Farley like bodily harm, 2) Loud yelling to enhance comedic ability, and 3) Long-winded humorous dialogue that exerts itself for way too long. Surprise surprise! All of these things are in “The Boss”, and very few of them brought anything out of me. It’s sad when McCarthy isn’t even the funniest or most enjoyable character in her own movie, but that is what we have here. The humor is definitely rated R for A LOT of language. Most of it isn’t necessary to bring out the real humor in a joke. It’s dirty because they can, and that is when the cursing loses a lot of its luster.
Lets talk about the performances. I mentioned earlier that McCarthy isn’t the best part of this movie, and that has a lot to do with the way her character is presented. Falcone scripts Michelle as this arrogant, mentally abusive shell of a human being, and it wasn’t appealing to me or the audience I saw it with in the slightest. For much of the movie, our auditorium was either silent or gasping at some of the appalling ways that she communicated her friendship. The film does start to turn itself around for her character in the final twenty minutes, with a heartfelt apology, but then it just forgets about it, and she goes back to being herself. Kristen Bell was a nice supporting choice. She is really the only character in this movie who feels remotely human. It’s because of that straight woman routine why I laughed the couple times I did in this movie. I want to talk about the surprise casting of Peter Dinklage because it is very head-scratching. First of all, how you would even know that Peter is in this movie is beyond me because his character and story arc are nowhere to be found for the trailers of this movie. His plot sort of comes out of left field, being shoe-horned in during a movie that should’ve been just about Michelle and the effects that she has on these kids. None of this wouldn’t be even remotely memorable or noteworthy if it wasn’t for Peter giving one of the most ridiculously laughable performances of his career. I get that this movie is a joke, and that Peter’s character is supposed to be portrayed under a certain light, but it just doesn’t fit in to how this film ends. Suddenly, I felt like I was transported back into 90s action flicks like “Rush Hour” or “Lethal Weapon” with ridiculously goofy villains.
Overall, “The Boss” completely lacks the kind of comical authority to stand out from any other comedy currently playing at the box office. The paper thin writing screams that this movie was rushed out to capitalize on the decreasing aura of light surrounding its star actress. With a little more focus, the film could’ve at least been passable, but as it stands, Falcone’s latest is a stale batch of tasteless sweets. Not as bad as “Tammy”, but nowhere near on the level of “Spy”.