In my humble opinion Melissa McCarthy is a bad movie or two away from being a female Kevin James. I’m only subjecting myself to her new film, The Boss, because she took a few awkward steps towards legitimacy with last year’s Spy.
The Boss starts with Melissa McCarthy, decked out in a turtle-neck and glowing red pant-suit, dancing on a stage with T-Pain in front of a million cheering fans. The film ends with Melissa McCarthy, still wearing that turtleneck, samurai sword fighting with Peter Dinklage. Everything in between is a sort of rushed mish-mash of Troop Beverly Hills, Old School, and a saccharine, and unbelievable take on feminism. It is, quite frankly, an awful film. Written and produced by McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone (he also directed the film, his second directorial collaboration with his wife), The Boss tries to wrap a story around a character – 47th richest woman in the world, Michelle Darnelle – spun out of McCarthy’s days as a member of the Groundling’s improv group. The film follows Darnelle, in typical comedy fashion, as she falls from grace due to inside trading, and has to eat crow and move in with her meek assistant (Kristen Bell) as she tries to work her way back up the corporate chain through a, uh, girl scout-like brownie empire. McCarthy and Falcone try to impress a sort of absurdist critique of corporate America onto a film that features a man dressed like a Phoenix offering to suck Peter Dinklage’s penis. To say the least, it doesn’t work. This is a poorly written, exceptionally cheap looking film, that thrusts McCarthy back into the role of loud-mouthed, mean lady, everyone in America has been rooting for her to step away from. And you can berate this film, with good reason, for a variety of things, but beyond the shoddy filming and the injection of truly awful slapstick and toneless mush it forces down your throat, it’s the film’s attempt to posit some sort of girl-power type stance that goes horribly wrong. At various points in the movie, we’re presented with the idea that women need to stand up, get militant, and stop pussyfooting around so they can rise to the top and be rich, horrible CEOs. But, the only way that Michelle Darnelle can see fit to do that is to stand on the back of a humble woman who’s sole talent seems to be baking brownies. And for every slight attempt by Falcone and McCarthy to inject a moment where a middle school age girl outside the normative spectrum of looks and personality type stands up and kicks ass, there’s another where McCarthy is clotheslining a “yeti” or mocking a girl for being a lesbian. As any good comedy would, the film toes the line of offensive, but it has no teeth behind it’s critique of American business and the role of the average woman in it, so instead it tries to double up on just loud-mouthed shit talk, and fails to do either with any taste or humor. To say that any goodwill McCarthy might’ve won back with Spy has been squandered is an understatement.
One Last Thought:
Are comedians just greedy, money grabbers who’ll latch on to any script if it’ll help them put a down payment down their new Nissan? This film is rife with strong comedians – Chelsea Strong, Kristen Schaal, Timothy Simons, etc. – doing absolutely nothing, and I can’t imagine why on Earth they would see this script written in lipstick on the back of a t-shirt and think there was any reason to get involved.