by Lisa Dib
A film like this is never going to be game-changing; the glut of comedies released every year generally sit around the middle or lower-middle of the film spectrum. They’re fine to watch - largely inoffensive, generally entertaining - but they’re not reinventing the wheel. Is that okay? Do we, as audiences, expect every film to be five-star, award-winning, perfect artist achievements? Or ar we generally satisfied with something watchable and occasionally amusing? You know, like when you're cooking and you just want something on in the background.
The Boss follows Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy), a former orphan kid done good by becoming a titan of industry and generally wealthy douchebag. The film leaps into the plot immediately; there is only the barest of set-up (Michelle are various ages being returned to her orphanage) before we learn in one scene that Michelle is a very rich, industrious businesswoman, and in the very next that she has done some inside training stuffs and is going to jail. The film really rushes the set-up to make room for what it assumes we want - McCarthy’s banter with her co-stars - throwing you right into the middle of this story. Michelle does her time and ends up relying on former employee Claire (Kristen Bell) to help her get back on her feet. As is custom, Claire and her daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson) at first resent the blow-hard, stubborn Michelle but then grow to like her. Michelle gets a dynamo idea for a business, ropes in Claire to help, it goes good until it goes bad and then it ends up fine again.
The plot itself is kind of irrelevant, since you’re there for the gags, which can often be lifted out and placed anywhere else. Peter Dinklage plays Renault, Michelle’s former lover/current nemesis, who can’t quite decide if he loves or hates Michelle (or rather, whether he wants to ruin her career or bone her silly), gets some good gags as a creepy, pompous business guy, and Saturday Night Live’s Cecily Strong doesn’t get nearly enough screen time as Claire’s boss. The Boss makes better use of its actors than to reduce them to dumb stereotypes - even Claire manages to avoid being cast as the dour working mum cliché - but isn't a great comedy outside of that, for all its boob gags, dumb physical pops and scenes that go nowhere.
Written by McCarthy, her husband Ben Falcone (Bridesmaids) and Steve Mallory (Tammy, Identity Thief), it’s not hugely memorable but for a few fun scenes that stick out in the memory, and the film’s emotional through-line actually does the film a disservice. Claire even acknowledges how much of a cliché Michelle is being with the whole “I don’t need anyone, I’ll push them away before they get too close” thing, and it doesn’t quite hit the emotional mark they were aiming for, especially since the Michelle character was so briefly set up in the first place. In the end, there’s a bunch of gags, an alright amount of laughs, and it’s a perfectly fine film, without being much else, or as mind-shittingly stupid as a Sandler joint.
The Boss is in cinemas Thursday April 14.