I really think that Melissa McCarthy is her own worst enemy. When deployed strategically by a filmmaker with a vision for how to utilize her comedic or dramatic talents, she can be quite effective. Hell, she’s an Oscar nominee. However, when left to her own devices or teamed up with her husband Ben Falcone as writer/director, the results can be cringeworthy and as far from Academy Award worthy as possible. The Boss is just another example of this, as we have a deeply unfunny and nearly incompetently made comedy that resembles more than anything else one of those unfortunate Saturday Night Live features that extended a character barely amusing enough for a skit to an unbearable 90 minutes or so. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I barely laughed once during this film. Considering this is a character McCarthy developed in her early improv days, you’d think there would be something funny about her, but no. It’s almost painful to watch these antics and not be even close to amused. The movie is just plain lazy too, so The Boss never is actually given a chance to succeed. It’s a shame too, since as previously mentioned, McCarthy is hilarious when properly deployed. This is not an example of that, however. Sadly, The Boss is one of the worst “comedies” of 2016 so far.
The film is equal parts over and under plotted, if that makes sense. Mainly, it’s an excuse to have Michelle Darnell (McCarthy) either act like a complete buffoon or a heartless titan of industry, depending on the given scene. After a set up that shows Michelle as an orphan who learned to only rely on herself, we see her as a successful businesswoman, lording it over the masses in a self help seminar of sorts. Personal assistant Claire (Kristen Bell) clearly can’t stand her, but after rival and former lover Renault (Peter Dinklage) has Michelle busted for insider trading, Claire can’t help but feel bad. That will come back to haunt her as Michelle has nowhere to go once out of prison, so she’s suddenly a roommate to her and her daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson). From their cramped apartment, Michelle begins to plot her comeback, which will involve a children’s organization, brownies, more than one double cross, and copious amounts of stupidity.
I really think that Melissa McCarthy needs to stop trying to develop comedy vehicles for herself. Both this and Tammy have shown that she shouldn’t be trusted to be left to her own devices with Falcone. All of her worst instincts are let loose and she creates a wholly unlikable character in Michelle Darnell. Unlike how her part in Bridesmaids was far from a nice person but incredibly fun, this is just a chore to endure. Pratfalls and swearing substitute for jokes or any sort of personality, and it’s a shame. Despite having developed this character for years, she looks lost in the role, jumping between depicting her as a heartless entrepreneur and a clueless dope who knows nothing about life. McCarthy is better than this, plain and simple. The same goes for Kristen Bell, who mostly just smiles her way through this, trying not to look too embarrassed. Spoiler alert: Bell is only sporadically successful. Peter Dinklage hams it up and at least has fun, but it’s far from what you would call a good performance. Ella Anderson is a decent enough child actress though, so there’s that. The rest of the cast, totally wasted, I might add, includes Kathy Bates, Tyler Labine, Margo Martindale, Annie Mumolo, Kristen Schaal, Timothy Simons, Cecily Strong, Cedric Yarbrough, and Falcone himself, to name a few. Trust me, this won’t be a project that they’ll be putting too high up on their resumes.
Between The Boss and Tammy, I think I’m pretty much done with Ben Falcone as a filmmaker. I’m not sure if his writing with McCarthy, as well as with Steve Mallory here, is to blame, but for whatever reason, he just can’t seem to direct comedy. The shots are all over the place, the pacing is nonexistent, the editing is scattershot, and there’s no sense of comic timing whatsoever. His script doesn’t set him up for success, as there’s no attention to keeping the character consistent at all, but the directing is almost worse. Perhaps he doesn’t know how to censor McCarthy, who seems to take advantage of her husband’s status as director, but for whatever reason, he doesn’t properly use her talents. She runs all over the project and creates an absolute mess that’s frankly rather hard to sit through.
I could go on and on about the shortcomings of The Boss, but that would require me thinking more about this unfunny mess, and I’d just rather not. It’s a complete failure, a black eye for McCarthy, and one of the worst movies of the year so far. 2016 has had a few comedic busts already, but this flick is up their with the least of them. Perhaps a funny film could have been made out of this character, but this certainly isn’t the one. Even if you’re a die hard McCarthy fan, you should skip The Boss. It’s just not good at all and a complete waste of your time.
–Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!