Saturday, 9 April 2016

The Boss: Film Review

The Boss: Film Review


Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage, Ella Anderson
Director: Ben Falcone

Re-teaming with her director husband and Tammy cohort, and reviving a character from 15 years ago in comedy troupe The Groundlings, Melissa McCarthy stars as the brash businesswoman Michelle Darnell.

Abandoned repeatedly when she was but a nipper, and thrown into various foster carers before being rejected time and time again, Darnell's grown up to be America's 47th Wealthiest woman but isn't much loved by her staff, chiefly Kristen Bell's long suffering single mom and assistant Claire.

When Darnell's incarcerated for insider trading, she emerges from prison determined to get back to the top - and finding only Claire's begrudgingly willing to let her stay, she insinuates her way into her life.

The Boss ain't exactly top dog.

Granted, if you've seen Melissa McCarthy's previous fare (and specifically Tammy) you will know what to expect - a pinch of raunchy (aka foul language) mixed in with some sweet saccharine fare to help you invest in the character's arc.

Clad in high neck turtleneck jumpers and clearly a spoof of Martha Stewart via Donald Trump, McCarthy invests fully into this character and it feels like a second skin to her without a shadow of a doubt as she inhabits the monstrous caricature.

With her push to create a brownie empire via Girl Guides named the Darnell Darlings (vaguely resembling a female troop of Black Power candidates, clothed in red berets), there are certainly moments when McCarthy sells what she's offering with ease and gusto.

But that mix of potty-mouth below par script and physical comedy soon provides a meal of diminishing returns.

There's only so often the apparently improvised and under-written script can fall back on a lazy dick joke to hit the highs it's aiming for. Granted, it ain't anything other than low-hanging fruit, but it soon becomes tiresome. And when the humour runs out, a third act over-dollop of sentiment as saccharine and as sickly as the brownies Darnell's Darlings are selling really thrusts things over the edge.

Bell proves fair game and gives a great straight performance as the frustrated mother of a kid and a monster (Darnell) but her sweet-natured turn goes to prove the diamond to Darnell's rough. That said, it's clear McCarthy has lived the character of the self-made millionaire before and there are moments when the monstrous and unexpected gives way to some funny laughs.

Dinklage is one-note Blue Steel and wasted, but then no-one in The Boss acquits themselves well and the whole thing suffers when compared to more amusing fare like Spy.

Fudging the final act and abandoning the crass proves very much to be The Boss' tonal Achilles heel, as it feels like extended sketches have been padded with very little idea of what to do and where to go.

Melissa McCarthy may get some modest returns for The Boss, as she clearly strikes a chord with the audience at times, but the film's insistence on following an oddly uneven journey and a woefully weak script does nothing to get this boss out of the cinematic boardroom and back to the floor.

In fact, quite simply, this Boss deserves to be fired.

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