Husband and wife, director and muse comedy duo Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy return to the multiplex with their latest laugh-fest THE BOSS. Falconeâ€™s last go behind the camera was 2014â€™s financially successful, but critically panned TAMMY; however, as Batman and Supes taught as last week, thereâ€™s often a disconnect between what audiences enjoy and what critics praise. How much you go into THE BOSS already a fan of McCarthyâ€™s previous work will likely be a barometer of how much youâ€™ll enjoy this film. I, for one, am a big fan.
This time out McCarthy dons a severe red wig and gaudy garments to portray Michelle Darnell, a toxic hybrid of Martha Stewart and Donald Trump on steroids. Whenâ€™s sheâ€™s put in jail for insider trading, Michelle has to beg and grovel her way back to her former titan status. Along the way she enlists former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell, authentically sweet and maternal here by shedding her Veronica Mars snark) and her daughter Rachel (an adorable Ella Anderson) to form an all female startup company of badass brownie makers. The success of this endeavor meets resistance from a schoolmate of Rachelâ€™s, helicopter mom Helen (a hilarious Annie Mumolo) and Darnellâ€™s old flame, Renault (Peter Dinklage).
THE BOSS doesnâ€™t reinvent any wheels, and thereâ€™s moments where it seeps into triteness, but letâ€™s face it, the whole endeavor exists for Falcone and McCarthy to show off their comedic chops. On that level, it succeeds. Thereâ€™s laughs aplenty here. BOSS doesnâ€™t have the depth of BRIDESMAIDS (the film which put McCarthy on the map for most of the world), or the shine of SPY, but McCarthy at this point is capable of elevating any material she touches into something fun and charming. Her Darnell is another great entry into her longstanding character work that started with LAâ€™s famed improv troupe, The Groundlings. McCarthy always commits, and we go along for the ride.
The overall production elements are competent, though not revolutionary. One set-piece pitting Darnellâ€™s girl squad versus Helenâ€™s gets so ridiculously over the top you merely have to accept it; another later in the film involving Renault and samurai swords comes a bit too far out of left field. These faults mostly arise out of the films uneven tone, which alternates between a sweet retelling of a postmodern Scroogette finding her soul (likely the audience drawn to McCarthyâ€™s TV work on MIKE & MOLLY) and the more bawdy, violent side of Darnell that comes out when push comes to shove. I canâ€™t blame the filmmakers for including the latter; no one drops the f-bomb like McCarthy.
If youâ€™re in need of some innocent laughs (and who isnâ€™t), THE BOSS delivers. It may not convert those who enjoy bashing McCarthy, but her and Falcone seem like such a genuinely authentic and deserving couple that I hope Hollywood gives them the chance to keep their â€œfamily businessâ€ open for more stories, and more atrocious wigs.