Melissa McCarthy’s latest, The Boss, directed by her husband and writing partner Ben Falcone, hits theaters this weekend. The Boss will remind everyone a great deal of Tammy (also written by McCarthy, her husband, and Steve Mallory) in that it is nothing more than a vehicle to highlight McCarthy’s comedic prowess. However, when the focus is primarily on just one character then the rest of the movie implodes.
Now, don’t misinterpret these thoughts on The Boss as some condemnation of every project Melissa McCarthy does. McCarthy does many wonderful films from the ensemble Bridesmaids, St. Vincent, to last year’s hit, Spy. The biggest difference between these three movies and The Boss is McCarthy didn’t have a hand in writing the screenplay. Bridesmaids is extremely balanced, and everyone was equally featured comedically. The same is true about Spy (which gives me hope about Ghostbusters because Paul Feig knows how to construct a comedy). In The Boss, the film is so hyper focused on Michelle Darnell that the rest of the movie is lazily constructed.
Is the idea behind The Boss a terrible one? Not really. The film’s based on the character McCarthy created at LA’s Groundlings Theatre, Michelle Darnell. The character is a motivational financial guru who does not censor her thoughts and limitless confidence. The character is a strong one but not strong enough to build a whole film around. They certainly attempted to develop the best script possible. In a recent interview on The Howard Stern Show, McCarthy said The Boss script underwent 11 rewrites over the years before being greenlit for production. Maybe they should have shot for a 12th?
In the film, Michelle Darnell rises from a childhood riddled with rejection and extended stays at an orphanage to become a financial guru who loves the finer things in life. Darnell gets arrested for insider trading after she’s turned in by a former lover played by Peter Dinklage (whom I am assuming just doesn’t say no to any project he’s offered). Darnell is sentenced to a few months in Jail and is broke. She tries to re-enter society and rebuild her reputation. Darnell reaches out to her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell) and hopes that she will be allowed to stay at their apartment until she can get on her feet. Darnell begins to help Claire out and takes her daughter to a Dandelion meeting, a fictional version of Girl Scouts. During the meeting, she has an epiphany that they should start their version of the Dandelions and start selling Claire’s brownies for a profit.
The Boss meanders all over the comedy landscape. There are moments where the film works quite blue, especially when Michelle (McCarthy) incites a street fight between two rival troupes over sales. The film also has moments of slapstick as Michelle tries to assimilate into Claire’s lifestyle. When she sits on the couch bed for the first time, she gets thrown into the wall. Groan.While it is easy to admire McCarthy for her comedic talent, writing is certainly not her strength.
The Boss will certainly make money this weekend at the box-office but don’t take that as a sign that this film is close to a good one. This is just another example of a bad Melissa McCarthy film that was released at the exact right time.