I liked The Boss. The film isn’t particularly memorable and the comedy hits low targets when it has the ability to be more ambitious, but Ben Falcone’s movie had me in frequent fits of laughter nonetheless.
Falcone’s a tricky guy. He makes polarizing work that goes against general mainstream expectations, and the public reception is all over the map. We witnessed this with his debut Tammy, a comedy that wasn’t afraid to face its trashy characters with a thoughtful story of broken relationships.
While I find his movies premature, I find it oddly exciting that Falcone is able to get away with such an uneven mixture of drama and comedy. Then again, perhaps the clout of his wife and working partner Melissa McCarthy puts major studios at ease – they know an audience will show up on opening weekend. It’s clear that Falcone/McCarthy are trying to create a new type of comedy; a production that coexists as a star-studded vehicle and a fearless experiment of extreme tones. And then, there are scenes in The Boss where nothing really happens. It’s not dramatic and it’s not amusing. It’s just characters being themselves and carrying a story. While this description doesn’t exactly sell the film well, it does nail the admiration I have towards this patient commercial comedy.
McCarthy plays a hotshot named Michelle Darnell who resents family and is caught up in an insider trading scandal. After serving time in prison, she rebuilds herself through a not-for-profit scout program for girls with the help of her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell). McCarthy and Bell are a worthwhile pair, while other supporting actors make good use of their screen time (including young Ella Anderson and Mountain Men’s Tyler Labine). The Boss is filthily funny with language and improv, but Falcone keeps a tight reign on the flow minus the occasional beating-of-a-dead-horse (a padded scenario where McCarthy, Bell, and Labine draw straws for oral sex becomes redundant).
During some sidebar scenes as well as a ridiculous finale, I figured that it’s possible a version of The Boss could’ve been made without Peter Dinklage’s aspiring samurai Renault. Then again, maybe Falcone and McCarthy were trying to see how much they could get away with. At this rate, their third collaboration may as well have McCarthy playing the role of a kitchen sink.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie