Director: Ben Falcone
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage, Tyler Labine
Running Time: 99 Minutes
There’s no denying that Melissa McCarthy is a comedic force of nature. Once the quirky sidekick on a low-rated but beloved dramedy (Gilmore Girls), she’s now arguably the funniest mainstream actress on the planet.
But the problem is she has to work with the right director to harness her talents. When she’s paired with Paul Feig, she’s unstoppable. Last year’s Spy ranks among the best comedies of the decade. But in something like Identity Thief, she’s just grating.
The Boss doesn’t hit those highs or lows. It’s right down the middle. And for its first two acts, it’s consistently funny, even if it’s not particularly original. But it’s last act is absurd in ways both good and bad, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense following what’s come before.
McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, one of the richest women in the world. When she’s busted for insider trading, she loses her entire empire and moves in with her long-suffering former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell, making the most out of a literally thankless role) and her daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson).
It’s not long until Michelle sees the opportunity to earn back her fortune: She’ll recruit Rachel to sell Claire’s fantastic brownies, poaching their talent from Rachel’s Girl Scout troop. Any scene in which Michelle tries to get the upperhand on the frosty Helen (Annie Mumolo), the mom of a scout, is comic gold. Their unrelenting viciousness provides the biggest laughs of the movie.
But things go off the rails when her business rival and ex-boyfriend Renault (Peter Dinklage) enters the picture. He’s determined to tear her down at every point, since he’s still reeling from the day Michelle broke up with him and beat him out for a crucial promotion.
This leads Michelle to do something nearly unforgivable, and the next scene – in which she begs for forgiveness – feels like weeks or months have passed, but apparently it’s only been a little over 36 hours. It screams of last-minute re-write, and while this adds a fun, heist-movie vibe, it feels like a completely different, sloppier movie than what’s come before.
Still, The Boss provides big laughs throughout and proves McCarthy won’t be slowing down any time soon.