By Mark Saldana
Rating: 1.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Melissa McCarthy is a tremendously talented actress and comedian currently working in television and film. However, if she continues making comedy films that range from mediocre to exasperatingly bad, she will soon wear out her welcome. McCarthy has starred in good movies (Spy, St. Vincent, Bridesmaids), but I feel that she needs to be more selective when signing onto films, especially those of the comedic variety. Unfortunately, The Boss is one particular movie on which McCarthy should’ve passed. I know her husband Ben Falcone wrote and directed the film, but considering that he also helmed and wrote the mediocre McCarthy vehicle Tammy, perhaps she needs to exercise some tough love and turn down her spouse’s projects.
McCarthy stars as Michelle Darnell, a self-made, successful industrialist who gets dethroned by an insider trading conviction. After serving her sentence, Michelle sets out to re-acquire the success, wealth and power she once had. The problem is that she has no family, friends, or former colleagues willing to help her. Desperate and homeless, Michelle turns to her former personal assistant Claire (Kristen Bell) to help her get back on her feet. Despite her conviction and prison time, Michelle still has much to learn about how to treat others and how to establish real relationships.
Though the film is a time-worn redemption story, in the right hands, it had the potential of becoming a funny and enjoyable movie. Writers Ben Falcone, McCarthy, and Steve Mallory, however, mostly rely on tiresome physical gags, one-liners that mostly fall flat, and over-the-top performances that just don’t work here. McCarthy does her best with the material and actually succeeds in offering audiences a few genuinely funny moments. Her gift for improvisation, comic timing, and line delivery helps a little, but not enough to save this mostly frustrating movie.
The film also has some earnest performances by Bell who ably portrays Michelle’s stressed-out employee-turned-business partner Claire, Tyler Labine, who charmingly stars as Claire’s love interest Mike, and Ella Anderson who brings much heart to her role as Claire’s daughter Rachel. Actors Kathy Bates, Annie Mumolo, Kristen Schaal, Cecily Strong, Timothy Simmons, Margo Martindale, and Cedric Yarborough all make appearances in the film intended for comedic purposes, but their scenes aren’t all that funny. This really is no fault of their own. The writing in their scenes just doesn’t work. Probably my biggest disappointment with the film has to do with the casting of gifted actor Peter Dinklage who stars as Michelle Darnell’s rival Renault. Dinklage really is an outstanding actor capable of handling both comedy and drama. Again, the writing for his over-the-top and caricaturesque role in this film truly squanders his talent. Dinklage is way better than this, and he also needs to be more selective when choosing comedic roles.
As for McCarthy, there is still hope for her career. If the new Ghostbusters reboot succeeds, she will have another hit in the winning column. If that one turns out to be a failure, McCarthy and her agent will need to rethink her career strategy, and should, perhaps, lay off of comedies for a while. As indicated by her lovely performance in St. Vincent, she has the chops to pull off more serious and straight-faced roles. If McCarthy can take anything away from The Boss, it is that everyone can have the strength and ability to rebound from poor decisions.