Melissa McCarthy has quickly become one of the most prominent female leads in slapstick comedies. Kristen Wiig is hilarious, sure, and Amy Schumer made a splash with Trainwreck, but McCarthy is putting out multiple films a year and most of them relatively satisfy (especially one of her latest, Spy). Will The Boss hit all the right notes?
McCarthy stars as a mega successful businesswoman named Michelle Darnell, who gives lectures and speeches on how to become rich. That is, until she’s arrested for insider trading and has all of her wealth taken away. When she’s released from jail, she finds her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell) and tries to find some way to earn back her fortune. She finds the key in Claire’s daughter, who is in a program parallel to the Girl Scouts. Darnell and Claire team up to start a booming brownie business, until Darnell’s rival Ronald (Peter Dinklage) learns about her return and tries to take her down.
We also have Kathy Bates as Darnell’s mentor, Tyler Labine as a potential love interest for Claire, and SNL’s Cecily Strong as Claire’s new boss. The movie is directed by McCarthy’s husband, Ben Falcone (whose only other director credit is Tammy, one of McCarthy’s least successful films).
McCarthy actually really nails it here. In a few recent outings, she’s been the aloof punching bag of the story but here, she gets the play a dominant and sometimes outright ruthless leader. It’s a fun turn for her and she pulls it off. Her one liners are great, as her delivery and timing has never been better.
Kristen Bell is fine as the heart of the story, though I don’t know if Bell has much range. She’s always kind of been the same to me (see Forgetting Sarah Marshall).
The writing is clever, mixing in some long-running gags and flurries of quick jabs. I haven’t laughed this much in theaters in quite awhile, so it was refreshing, especially amidst the big dark and serious movies in theaters right now.
There’s also some surprising action sequences, most notably a brawl with another cookie squad that features some hilarious moments, which were teased but not spoiled by the trailers. There’s also a heist sequence that is both fun and intense.
What doesn’t work?
Movies like this one (see any recent Will Ferrell or Kevin Hart movie) tend to have the same flaws. They’re incredibly predictable and hit the same key moments. It’ll have some surprising emotional moment that’s centered around a mistake our lead character made but of course it’ll all work out in the end. You go into these movies expecting that and unfortunately this movie hits all the same moments as well. You know almost immediately how this movie will progress.
That being said, it does it well. It may not be original or creative in structure but it does pull it off better than most other recent comedies of the R-rated variety.
The Boss was really refreshing. I went in wanting big laughs and I found more than I bargained for. It is R-rated, so expect plenty of profanity and sex jokes, but this movie managed to tackle them in the right way. McCarthy steals the show and reminds us why she’s one of the best out there right now.