In The Boss, Melissa McCarthy portrays a tycoon who has been ranked the 47th richest woman in the world, a self-absorbed striver who loses everything after an insider-trading scandal and then stages a comeback.
Too bad McCarthy’s foul-mouthed Michelle Darnell doesn’t make her way into the top 47 funniest characters in movies. She’s not even close.
For 27 years, Robert Denerstein was the film critic at The Rocky Mountain News. Read more of Robert's reviews at Denerstein Unleashed.
Teaming with her husband, director Ben Falcone, who directed her in the equally lame Tammy, McCarthy tries to spice up a one dimensional comedy with intermittent helpings of slapstick and even heavier doses of crude humor.
McCarthy reportedly created the movie’s main character when she was a member of The Groundlings, a Los Angeles comedy troupe. Let’s just say that McCarthy, who co-wrote the screenplay with Falcone and Steve Mallory, hasn’t come up with the most imaginative ways to put this character into a 99-minute movie.
After a stint at a federal prison, a newly impoverished Michelle takes up residence with a former assistant named Claire (Kristen Bell) and Claire’s daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson).
After accompanying Anderson’s Rachel to a meeting of a Girl Scout-like organization called The Dandelions, Michelle devises a money-making scheme. She’ll form her own group (“Darnell’s Darlings”) and sell brownies for profit. Her kiddie sales force will receive 10 percent commissions.
Meanwhile, Michelle’s nemesis, another tycoon played by Peter Dinklage plots to reduce her burgeoning brownie empire to rubble.
Among the movie’s bad ideas — and there are many — two standout. One involves a no-holds-barred fist fight between the Dandelions and Darnell’s Darlings. The other centers on a climactic sword fight (no, I’m not kidding) between Dinklage’s Renault and Michelle.
Somewhere along the line Kathy Bates turns up as Ida, a woman who helped Michelle on her meteoric rise and who agrees to lend financial support to her new enterprise.
If you step back from this McCarthy dominated mess, you may realize that she had an opportunity to use this character as a Trump-like launch pad for one hell of a satire.
Instead, the movie’s principal strategy (streaming profanity in inappropriate places) feels so familiar, it’s a non-starter.
McCarthy boasts a new short, red hairdo, but little else about her work in The Boss feels fresh. Michelle may be more upscale than some of McCarthy’s previous characters, but McCarthy’s doing another variation on the same-old joke. At this rate, she’s likely to turn herself into a one-woman formula.