THE BOSS (USA/15A/99mins)
Directed by Ben Falcone. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage, Annie Mumolo, Kristen Schaal.
THE PLOT: In and out of foster care, Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy) had a troubled childhood, but reinvented herself as a success guru in her adult life. When former flame Renault (Peter Dinklage) turns her into the police for insider trading, Michelle must find a way to get back to the top, with the help of her former assistant Claire’s (Kristen Bell) skills at baking.
THE VERDICT: “My name is Michelle Darnell, and I am the wealthiest woman in America”. So begins ‘The Boss’, with McCarthy lowered from the ceiling at a pop star-esque conference before rapping and dancing with T-Pain. If this sounds like standard McCarthy comedy fare, that’s because it is in some ways, but it is also the best comedy we have seen from the actress in some time, perhaps because she obviously revels in playing the villain for once.
McCarthy is on top form as Michelle Darnell, with script and improvisations on set working well together, and some of the trademark awkwardness we have come to expect from McCarthy’s characters being toned down. As well as this, McCarthy obviously has fun with playing a slightly darker, more selfish character, and this works well for the movie. Kristen Bell plays the sweet character to McCarthy’s selfish one; Claire is a single mother struggling to make ends meet after Michelle is sent to prison, and makes the character warm and gentle. It is the relationship between Claire and Michelle that makes the film work as well as it does, and the two actresses have great chemistry together. Elsewhere, Peter Dinklage plays Renault; former lover of Michelle, turned worst enemy. Dinklage tries his best with the role, but it is becoming more and more clear that he is not a strong comedic actor. Still, Dinklage is always a joy to watch on screen, even in his weaker, smaller roles. The rest of the cast features ‘Bridesmaids’ co-writer Annie Mumolo, Kathy Bates, Kristen Schaal and Cedric Yarbrough.
Husband and wife writer team Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy are joined this time by Steve Mallory, in his first writing credit, and the three do well enough with the screenplay. There are some great jokes and strong pacing, although these are mixed with odd jumps through the story and a story that becomes more than a little predictable at times. Michelle pushing people away because she was pushed away as a child is a plot device the audience can see coming within the opening moments of the film, and the tone often shifts from over the top comedy to calmer family tale with little warning, meaning the film feels disjointed at times. The dialogue is where the film shines, however, and it makes good use of the entire cast’s acting and comedic timing.
Director Ben Falcone makes great use of the cast, and there is strong chemistry and great timing between Bell and McCarthy that makes the film work. The pacing is steady for most of the film, although some clunky edits and decisions to skip some situations that could have been mined for comedy feel strange.
In all, ‘The Boss’ has problems, but is one of the funniest comedies Melissa McCarthy has produced in a long time. The actress obviously revels in playing a nastier character, and pairing her with Kristen Bell is a stroke of genius. It’s just a shame that an uneven performance from Peter Dinklage, some strange edits and messy pacing drag this film down from great to good.
RATING: 3/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

The Boss
Review by Brogen Hayes
3.0McCarthy Rocks!
  • filmbuff2011

    Films featuring the broad comedic talents of Melissa McCarthy tend to be hit-and-miss affairs. For every Spy, there’s an Identity Thief. The Boss falls firmly in the latter camp – and it’s not even campy.

    Michelle (McCarthy) has never really fit in. Shuttled back and forth between different foster homes and the orphanage where a nun looked after her, she went her own way and achieved her own success by becoming the 47th wealthiest woman in America. But in a plot twist too similar to last year’s poor Get Hard, she’s convicted of insider trading. Five months pass by and she comes out of the slammer a reformed woman. Well, sort of. With nowhere to go initially, she takes up residence at the house of sympathetic former employee Claire (Kristen Bell) and her daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson). Together, they work on a new business idea to launch Claire’s delicious homemade brownies into the world with their own troop. This means taking out rival girl scouts The Dandelions. In the meantime, Michelle’s samurai-obsessed old rival Renault (Peter Dinklage) wants a piece of the action…

    The Boss so desperately wants to be a better film. It has some good ideas, like the tough cookies that Michelle trains up to sell Claire’s brownies. There are some laughs to be had, as girls bash each other to bits in one big catfight. Instead, it ends up being very average and very predictable on the whole. That’s mostly down to the uninspired script by Steve Mallory, director Ben Falcone and McCarthy herself. The message about taking charge of your life and making it happen the way you originally wanted it to is as old as the hills. It’s cornball penny philosophy that doesn’t tell us anything new, or convince us as to how Michelle even got where she is now. A film about that would at least be more interesting than this one, which relies too heavily on contrivances and very basic plot mechanics.

    McCarthy can really sparkle when she’s on form (e.g. Spy), but she can partially blame herself for a character that is mouthy and mostly obnoxious. It’s a forgettable performance that is a little too broad, even by McCarthy’s standards. The script really needed a touch from her Bridesmaids and Spy director Paul Feig, to punch it up and make it funnier. Dinklage at least has some fun with his outrageous character, but sadly there isn’t enough of him in the film. The Boss is a fairly dull comedy that never really leaps off the page. So, this reviewer is going to give it the sack. McCarthy will have to have her performance reviewed if the upcoming remake/reboot of Ghostbusters is going to climb out of its controversial snakepit and make a mark. **

  • emerb

    “The Boss” stars comedy lady of the moment in Hollywood, Melissa McCarthy, who co-wrote the screenplay with her husband, Ben Falcone (who also directs and has a small cameo as a lawyer) and also Steve Mallory. It is their second outing together after the hit-and-miss affair, “Tammy”. The improvement in this film is definitely noticeable and it’s funnier and with a more coherent plot which isn’t likely to be the film that wins McCarthy a new fan base but it won’t drive away her current ones either. It’s a middle-of-the road comedy which keeps
    everything fairly safe with plenty of comic momentum and laughs. She plays the arrogant, ruthless and ultra-rich mogul, Michelle Darnell, who built her multiple Fortune 500 companies from scratch.

    The movie opens with a very amusing sequence with Michelle, an orphan, being dumped by a succession of foster families, before giving up on the idea that a family could help or support her in any way. Years later, she is incredibly wealthy business woman in the big league who preaches her philosophies to cheering hordes at glitzy motivational seminars where she enters on the back of a golden phoenix shooting fireworks, duets on “All I Do Is Win” with T-Pain. Things come crashing down, however, when a rival and former lover Renault (an outrageous Peter Dinklage) gets her busted for insider trading and the SEC drags her in
    kicking and screaming where she is dumped in prison. When she emerges, she is homeless, penniless and friendless. All her property and assets have been seized and so she ends up crashing with her long-suffering assistant, single mom Claire (Kristen Bell) and her daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson). Despite the fact that they live in a cramped Chicago apartment, they take pity on her and agree to help out while she tries to get back on her feet.Michelle treats them terribly but when she takes Rachel to her Girl Scout group meeting, she gets a new business idea. She will start selling brownies, using a recipe devised by Claire. Witness the birth of Michelle’s “Darnell’s Darlings” – girls with attitude, red berets and a rather distinctively brazen way of selling brownies. The remainder of the plot then revolves around the revenge Michelle plans against Renault who is also her biggest rival.

    Melissa McCarthy has a natural screen presence and here she is a fun character to watch, with her shock of red hair, plentiful eye makeup, and assortment of coloured turtlenecks. She plays the character with with incredible physicality and slapstick while also imbuing the character with wit, cunning, and even ruthlessness. Kristen Bell is well cast in a rather thankless role but she is winning and charismatic enough to make her character appealing, even when she is really just there to play an earnest, forlorn, ineffectual single mom. Peter Dinklage also makes a strong and amusing presence as the sworn enemy and one-time lover. I much preferred this movie to “Tammy” and there are plenty of laughs, many of which make use of McCarthy’s physical presence and her endless string of insults and threats. The film works because the character, Michelle Darnell, is funny and as abrasive as she is, we warm to her. Don’t lose
    sleep if you miss this film but if you fancy a light-hearted piece of entertainment,
    you won’t be disappointed. However, be warned that many of the gags are
    borderline vulgar – or worse!

    • Clive Bower

      The Boss , again this one didn’t excite me I am sorry to say . Will Farrell is part of the production team for me the film just lacked in story . Only watch it if you must