Release date: April 8, 2016
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Ben Falcone
MPAA Rating: R (for sexual content, language and brief drug use)
Screenwriters: Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone, Steve Mallory
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage, Kathy Bates
After countless rejection as an orphan, Michelle Darnell, molds herself into a financial mogul with the telling mantra “The Power of One”. Convinced that any semblance of family only weakens a person, Darnell surrounds herself with “Yes men”. That is, until Darnell is imprisoned for insider trading- ala Martha Stewart. Upon her release from prison and without the funds to recruit “yes men”, Darnell imposes herself upon her ex-assistant, Claire– a single mom, played by Kristen Bell, and her daughter Rachel. In the cramped apartment, the roles are reversed, as Claire- no longer on Darnell’s pay roll, does her best to pair goodwill with tough love. Before long, Michelle Darnell, discovers her golden ticket back to the top while also bonding with her new roommates and developing into “a weird family”. Unable to cope with this new found sense of family, Darnell burns all bridges – personal & business alike within 24 hours. Recognizing her mistake, we see Darnell’s growth when she returns to her weird family asking for forgiveness.
With a string of comedies centered on actress Melissa McCarthy, one might wonder when the joke will run out. Is the Melissa McCarthy feature film comedy more of a one hit wonder with subsequent comedies degrading in quality over time? Or is McCarthy truly the comedic juggernaut that can sustain four McCarthy centric comedies, The Heat, Spy, Tammy, and Identity Thief, in three short years?! Based on The Boss, I’d say McCarthy is here to stay and her place as one of Hollywood’s elite it well earned.
Is The Boss ridiculous, mouthy, borderline offensive, and spattered with the typical bouts of physical comedy? Sure. But The Boss never rests on being any single one. Instead, they all swirl together into an extremely well paced film that keeps you laughing and entertained. The Boss’ success comes down to the cast, magnificently led by McCarthy, and to editor Craig Alpert who cleverly keeps sentimentality at bay and the pace- full speed ahead. Also, noteworthy were the stylings of Wendy Chuck and the makeup department, who created a very new look for McCarthy. Though it may take long time McCarthy fans a moment to warm up to the new look, Chuck brilliantly informs the audience as to whom Michelle Darnell is with her style alone. McCarthy as Michelle Darnell is a catchy mesh of controversial icons running the gamut from Martha Stewart and Paula Dean to Nancy Grace.
Typically not one for humor that capitalizes on cheap, offensive, shock-instigated laughs, I was pleasantly impressed with how The Boss doled out potentially offensive joke after joke with cheeky class. And that’s the blessing of the anti-hero led film. Darnell can get away with branding “Darnell’s Darlings”- her attempt to capitalize on the Girl Scout Cookie Sale model- with a look rivaling that of such militaristic icons as the Japanese Rising Sun Flag with some Nazi-esque overtones. And these little darlings don’t only look menacing, Darnell sees to it that behave in kind – intimidating and manipulating their prey, the customer. Under the not so mindful supervision of Darnell an all out brawl erupts in the streets between competing adolescent sweet treat sales teams. The ridiculous sequence utilizes all the quintessential fight scene stunts, slow motion capture, and ninja moves but with adolescent girls as the combatants. Don’t be misled by the copious children cast in The Boss. Much of the humor comes from seemingly innocuous adolescent settings, being overrun by foulmouthed disturbingly jaded adults.
The arc of a comedy like, The Boss can be reasonably surmised by its trailer. So there aren’t any big twists, turns, or surprises in the personal arc from lonely anti-hero to loveable anti-hero who learns to embrace the idea of family. But the combination of physical humor combined with the unrelenting, grounded, invested, wit of McCarthy and friends makes the predictable journey a laugh out loud, knee slapping good time. Leave the kids with the sitter and buy your tickets. A comedy like The Boss is best enjoyed in theatres, where the roller coaster of laughs is a shared in a community experience.