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The Boss (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 26, 2020

The Boss

The Boss

THE BOSS (2016)

Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Kathy Bates, Tyler Labine, Timothy Simons, Peter Dinklage, Ella Anderson, Annie Mumolo, Cecily Strong, Cedric Yarbrough, Kristen Schaal, Kathy Bates, Mary Sohn, Michael McDonald, Margo Martindale, Ben Falcone, Eva Peterson, Timothy Simons, Steve Mallory, Presley Coley and Gayle King.

Screenplay by Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone, Steve Mallory.

Directed by Ben Falcone.

Distributed by Universal Pictures.  98 minutes.  Rated R.

I’ve been saying for a few years now that Melissa McCarthy is a brilliant comic force, and yet Hollywood really does not know how to use her.

She is funny, she is crude, she is smart, but she works best if she is given a legitimately quirky character and interesting writing.  It is not a coincidence that despite the fact that she has been nearly ubiquitous in films for the last few years, her most interesting roles were early supporting roles: Sookie on Gilmore Girls and Megan in Bridesmaids.

It’s not simply enough for her to be an overbearing, loud, dumb fat cliché.  McCarthy works much better as intelligent, confident women who break clichés.  Instead, Hollywood seems determined to turn her into Zach Galifianakis with boobs.  Sadly, there are only so many good roles out there for a woman of a certain size, and honestly her Bridesmaids co-star Rebel Wilson has gotten most of the roles that would have been nearly perfect for her.  (Though, truthfully McCarthy may be a bit too old for most of Wilson’s parts.)

Now, looking at her latest film The Boss, it appears that even McCarthy herself does not know what to do with her prickly and over the top talent.

McCarthy co-wrote this film with her husband Ben Falcone (who also directed here), and yet the character is every bit as ill a fit for her as such earlier crap like Identity Thief and The Hangover Part III (as well as Tammy, yet another failed attempt by McCarthy and Falcone to tame her talent).

In fairness, McCarthy and Falcone tried to create a smart character for her, though it is also a horribly flawed, selfish, offensive, shrill woman.  The character is an odd mish-mash of celeb caricatures – Martha Stewart’s basic media baron gone to jail back story mixed with Donald Trump’s blustery, vulgar self-confidence and disturbed rhetoric, Mary Kay Ash’s over-the-top corporate theatricality and splashes of Chris Farley’s unhinged slapstick id.  Tack on the Angie’s List lady’s hairstyle, mix well and hope something funny will arise.

It doesn’t.

The Boss is one of the softest, least funny comedies to come down the pike since, well, the last thing to be co-produced by Will Ferrell.  (As this was…)  It is a complete and utter misfire, unless you find gang catfights between Brownie-aged girls and Peter Dinklage lisping like a summer-stock version of Sasha Baron Cohen’s Brüno to be the height of comedy.

To the rest of us, watching The Boss is like doing hard time.

Stranded in the morass is Kristen Bell, once again the best thing in a movie that she is way too good to be a part ofHer straight woman character is the only sign of life and humanity in this otherwise surprisingly mean-spirited little film.

So keep looking, Melissa.  Maybe your upcoming guest appearance in the Netflix reboot of Gilmore Girls will remind you what good writing can do for your performances.

Dave Strohler

Copyright ©2016 All rights reserved. Posted: April 8, 2016.

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