The Boss movie full length review - Another McCarthy-Falcone misfire.
Sometimes a filmmaker is simply too emotionally invested in a movie to see when it needs to be better than it's turning out to be.
Of course, every filmmaker needs to be passionate about his/her cinematic endeavor, but there is such a thing as letting emotions get in the way of sound artistic judgment. It often happens when the same person both writes and directs a movie (his/her "passion project"), especially when also acting in the movie. Then, there's an even greater danger of things going wrong when these kinds of overlaps involve a married couple. It happened when Dax Shepard wrote, co-directed and starred in the pointless action-comedy "Hit and Run" (2012) which co-starred his real-life wife Kristen Bell. In 2014, another couple, Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone, took the practice of overlapping jobs and complicating it with marriage to another level by co-writing and co-starring in "Tammy" while Falcone also directed. That movie made money, but was poorly received by most critics and many Movie Fans as well. 2016 has the pair taking the same chance with the comedy "The Boss" (R, 1:39), which, ironically, co-stars Kristen Bell (but her husband is nowhere in sight). So, is "The Boss"? boss? Read on.
McCarthy stars as Michelle Darnell, a high-powered businesswoman and motivational speaker whose childhood (back and forth between an orphanage and foster care) taught her that the only person she can depend on is herself. She's self-centered, arrogant and basically amoral. Michelle generally uses and abuses her personal assistant, Claire (Bell), and Michelle's bodyguard isn't much more than her personal hype man. When Michelle is arrested for insider trading and sent to jail for five months, everyone abandons her, former lover and long-time business rival Renault (Peter Dinklage) buys her companies and the authorities freeze all of her remaining assets. Looks like someone has to start all over again.
When Michelle is released from jail, she doesn't have anyone to call or anywhere to go, so she takes a taxi to Claire's apartment. When Claire gets home from her new job (where she works for a crazy Darnell disciple played by SNL's Cecily Strong), Claire's pre-teen daughter, Rachel (Ella Anderson), convinces her mom that they have to do something to help Michelle. Claire allows her former boss to stay in the apartment until she gets back on her feet, but Michelle's feet remain reclined on Claire's couch until Claire forces Michelle to do something to earn her keep. Michelle takes Rachel to her Dandelions meeting (think Girl Scouts) where the troop leader (Kristen Schaal) is discussing their cookie sales.
Michelle gets an idea that her "way back" is to form a group called Darnell's Darlings which will teach girls business skills as they sell the unusually delicious brownies that Claire makes from an old family recipe. Michelle gets Claire to make the brownies and help with the troop and gets Rachel to help her recruit various tough girls and other misfits to join up and sell brownies for a percent of the profits. Michelle also approaches her estranged former mentor (Kathy Bates) for financing to help expand the business, but as all this is going on, Renault and his equally evil assistant (Timothy Simons) are keeping tabs on Michelle and her new business, hoping to increase the payback that he feels her still owes her.
"The Boss" is mostly unoriginal, uninspired, unrealistic and unfunny. The clichéd plot lazily recycles the often used story of a main character who has been hardened by a tough life and doesn't know how to give or receive love. Falcone's direction randomly makes use of McCarthy's talent for physical comedy, but rarely gets her or the other actors to show us anything interesting or even very likable about their characters. Both the script and the acting give us characters who often change their tones and their attitudes toward other characters abruptly and with no clear reason why. We also see characters meeting for the first time, but acting like they already know each other, again without explanation.
There is also a lack of realism in the way the script portrays the fallout from Michelle's crimes, and her business dealings as the head of Darnell's Darlings, but this comedy's biggest flaw is its lack of? comedy. There are a few laughs to be found here and there, but the movie's other problems just kill the mood. Besides that, the movie's attempts at humor are overly dependent on cartoonish violence involving children, cursing around, by and at children, and vulgar sexual references which come off as more crude than funny. McCarthy herself has been much funnier in previous films and hopefully she'll be funnier again in her future projects. Sadly, her character in this film is one boss who should be fired herself. "D+"