The Boss and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Ben Falcone
Melissa McCarthy has been around for quite some time, but her meteoric rise to super-stardom is nothing short of amazing, especially when you realize that Bridesmaids was only five years ago. She’s had her ups and downs to be sure with movies like Identity Thief and Tammy being total wrecks, and yet neither of those (nor anything else she does) can even put a dent in her ever growing box office power. Now on the brink of the biggest movie of her career, it’s time for her and her husband to take another crack at making a film all on their own to make up for the last one not turning out to well. Does this manage to prove once again that McCarthy is untouchable due to her skills as a leading lady, or will it prove that she’s untouchable due to career not slowing down in the slightest if this turns out to be a disaster? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy) who is the forty seventh richest woman in the world; a fortune she built from the ground up as she was adopted and abandoned no less than three times during her life. When the movie starts, she’s on top of the world but has lost touch with the commoners, which is especially apparent with the way she treats her assistant Claire (Kristen Bell). Not only that, she has an ex business partner (and ex-lover) named Renault (Peter Dinklage) who has been itching to get revenge on her and finally has an opportunity when he gets proof of committing a crime (insider trading) and reports her to the FCC. She goes to jail, loses all of her money, and comes crawling back to Claire. Will Michelle be able to earn back her fortune with the help of her former assistant and soon to be bestest friend? How far will Renault go to keep Michelle from finding success ever again? WHAT IS SHE HIDING UNDER THAT TURTLENECK!?
This movie could not have been a more pleasant surprise and is right now one of the funniest films of the year. The trailers sell it as another one of those man child comedies that were popularized in the nineties (The Water Boy, Freddy Got Fingered), perfected by Will Ferrell (Talladega Nights, Elf), and then was driven into the dirt (Step Brothers, That’s my boy) with the big difference here being Melissa McCarthy playing a woman-child instead. The trailer also had gross out gags primarily about Melissa McCarthy’s body which apparently is supposed to be repellent for some reason, physical comedy bits that don’t make any sense like a fold out bed that can launch someone against a wall, and the promise of the most tired of clichés; rich people don’t know what ordinary things are. I was not looking forward to seeing this and went in the theater with a rictus scowl of contempt etched onto my face, waiting to hate it and questioning my choices in life. Within five minutes though, it had me laughing, and by the half hour mark I was completely won over. It has its problem (the unfunny jokes in the trailer are still unfunny), but it also has a fully fleshed out main character who you can actually root for and a story that works towards Melisa McCarthy’s strengths.
So why is this one better than the other man child movies? What are the pitfalls that this manages to avoid that many of its contemporaries could not? For starters, it’s almost a given in any man child movie that the character we are following is stupid. They’re usually good at one thing (race car driving, ice skating, Christmas decorations) which is why they’re on top of the world but they end up losing it all because they were too stupid to NOT lose it all. It’s a coming to age story for a character that should already know better by now, so for the lesser examples it’s not fun to watch them realizes that they need to grow up. Here, Melissa McCarthy is not an idiot and has worked her ass off to be where she is, so at the very least we’re dealing with someone who is competent instead of just conveniently skilled in one area. The movie takes the time to establish the hardships she’s had to endure, the ruthless decisions she’s had to make, and the bridges she’s had to burn which, while not the main focus of the movie, is WAY more than I was expecting and it gives her enough depth that you end up wanting to follow her as she claws her way back to the top. Not to mention that, along with the more fleshed out main character, we have a more believable (if still exaggerated) world that’s populated with really funny and for the most part down to earth people that have to deal with Melissa McCarthy’s antics, especially Helen played by Annie Mumolo who is an amazing foil here and is the foundation or some the biggest laughs in the movie.
The last thing this movie has that many of the other man child movies fail to capture is that this has some genuine heart. While it’s sadly not on the level of something like School of Rock, it certainly has that vibe with Melissa McCarthy learning to care about others and the whole Girl Scouts knock offs subplot with the local girls. Her big plan for a new business is to have girls selling brownies door to door with the added incentive of the girls themselves getting a portion of the profits. Despite this most certainly being on the wrong side of child labor laws, it serves its purpose of getting some really funny young actresses to spout profanities and find a place where they belong.
Now even though this movie is great and is absolutely hilarious, it’s not perfect. It suffers from two main problems which are the subplots and the ending. The movie introduces a couple of subplots and side characters that really don’t have much to do in here and seem to be resolved (or at least have moved forward) off screen. The romance between Claire and Mike takes a huge jump forward without much warning which feels like a missed opportunity to give Kristen Bell something that doesn’t lead back to Melissa McCarthy’s character and honestly her character could have used something like that so that she isn’t simply someone to have jokes bounced off of her. Kathy Bates is also on hand as Melissa McCarthy’s former mentor, but she only has two scenes in here (only one of which is with Melissa McCarthy) so she feels a bit wasted here and her role doesn’t have the kind of punch that it should. The worst example though is the girl scouts who do get some really great scenes in here, but honestly I would have preferred at least half of the movie be about them like it was in School of Rock and it’s baffling that they WEREN’T more of a focus considering how much of the advertising for this movie was focused on that. They’re mostly just here for the second act and then drop off the movie when we shift into the finale (the other big problem with the movie) and it feels like such a missed opportunity considering just how great the child actors are in this; especially Eva Peterson as Chrystal (also known as The Giant).
So why exactly did the girls drop out of the movie for the third act? Because the ending of this movie is a heist. No, seriously. I don’t know why they felt the need to go that far into wacky shenanigans with a movie about a business woman using young girls to rebuild her fortune, but apparently the writers thought it would be a great idea for Melissa McCarthy and Peter Dinklage to get in a sword fight. Speaking of which, I haven’t really talked about Peter Dinklage yet. He’s funny enough in his role, but he feels like someone out of a different and much less interesting movie as he’s a broad caricature with plenty of quirky mannerisms and a sniveling assistant. It’s not that it isn’t funny, but that it doesn’t really work with what Melissa McCarthy is doing in her part of the movie. It’s almost like a hostile takeover in and of itself (ironic considering that’s what his character does to McCarthy’s company) where Peter Dinklage is biding their time in the background until he sees an opportunity to overtake the movie entirely for the last third. It did give me a couple of laughs, but it really doesn’t work at all and is disappointing for a movie that until that point had successfully skirted the chance to go into full on absurdity.
The movie has its flaws here and there, but overall it’s a fantastic and hilarious experience that I was not expecting. Melissa McCarthy truly is a superstar and has the chops to rival that of some of the greats like Will Ferrell or Bill Murray if given the right material. I’d like to see more movies like this from here and I honestly hope that they only get better from here (that third act is REALLY a bummer) but for what it is, it’s a damn fine comedy that is yet another example of why Melissa McCarthy has become such an huge name in comedy so quickly. Just don’t screw up Ghostbusters! PLEASE DON’T SCREW THAT UP!!
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