“The Boss” falls into that bleak category of mediocre. Sure, a few moments garner a laugh or two, but those don’t outweigh the problems. As long as you don’t demand too much, “The Boss” will fill some time if you have an unpleasant task to do, something like working on your taxes or having your teeth cleaned. (Sorry, Dr. Hailey).
Basically, the flaws come from what surely must be the filmmakers’ obvious intent: to create a vehicle for the comic genius of Melissa McCarthy. Not only does she carry the load of the film on her shoulders in the lead, but she also co-wrote it with husband Ben Falcone, the director.
While they were at it, they also wrote in a part for him. Whatever organic magic bubbles up in really good comedies feels missing here. I fear the tail wags the dog, and everything feels a little too calculated.
As someone who paid all the dues as a stand-up comedian, McCarthy crafted her acting skills at the prestigious Actors Studio in New York City. Then her rise to movie fame came after years of television sit-coms. In the lead role as businesswoman Michelle Darnell, she brings good timing, intensity, and energy. Unfortunately, her 2014 films, specifically St. Vincent and Tammy, provided much better vehicles.
In “The Boss,” Michelle Darnell is a female version of Trump before politics. Coming from humble beginnings, she navigates her way to become a tycoon of big business. Propelled by self-sufficiency, she lives a lavish lifestyle. She commands stadium-sized crowds and shares her strategies for wealth accumulation, most of which involve clawing your way to the top.
Self-absorbed and surrounded by “yes” people, Darnell fails to calculate the devious nature of her ex-lover Renault (Peter Dinklage). (Really, “Game of Thrones” Tyrion Lannister in a suit and tie)
Renault alerts the Feds to Darnell’s shady dealing, which lands her in prison for several months for insider trading. When she emerges, she has nothing.
Landing on the doorstep of her former employee Claire (Kristin Bell), Darnell is down and out but fighting. She accompanies Claire’s young daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson) to a troop meeting of the Dandelions. After witnessing the process and profits behind selling cookies, Darnell creates a scheme to get rich again, and Darnell’s Darlings is born. She will enlist a world-wide network of girls to sell brownies and keep all the proceeds. The next generation of ruthless businesswomen will be well-trained.
Claire quits her day job to do the brownie making and become Darnell’s partner. From that point on, Darnell creates conflicts with the Dandelions and makes major business decisions without consulting Claire. All this chaos will finally subside, but not until you’re subjected to expanses of stupidity that last far too long.
I only wish McCarthy had shared that brownie recipe.
Rated R for sexual content, language and brief drug use.
Marilyn Robitaille has been writing film reviews for the Empire-Tribune since 1999.