ReelBob: ‘The Boss’
By Bob Bloom
In “The Boss,” Melissa McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, a self-centered, inconsiderate, deceitful investment mogul who loses everything after being arrested by the SEC for insider trading.
To make the movie palatable for McCarthy’s fans, it opens with Michelle’s backstory of continually being abandoned and rejected by several foster families.
This is the filmmakers’ attempt to soften Michelle’s image and justify her bad behavior. This shot at emotional manipulation is one of the artifices the movie uses to simultaneously allow Michelle to act as she does and give the audience leave to, if not approve, then at least understand her motivations.
The only character who even mildly tolerates Michelle is her former assistant, Claire (Kristen Bell in a very wishy-washy performance).
For some unexplainable reason, Claire’s daughter Rachel takes pity on Michelle after her release from prison and convinces her mother to allow the disgraced mogul to stay in their cramped apartment. Only in the movies!
The film, written by McCarthy, her husband, Ben Falcone, who also directs, and Steve Mallory, does give McCarthy free rein, and she takes full advantage, offering some very funny moments.
The movie is gleefully politically incorrect. Michelle hits upon a scheme to rebuild her empire by forming a Brownie-like contingent of girls called Darnell’s Darlings, who will sell the utterly delicious brownies that Claire bakes.
Michelle, along with Claire and Rachel, poach girls from Rachel’s former Dandelions group by promising them a percentage of the profits.
During her sales pitch, Michelle tells these pre-pubescent youngsters about lesbianism, explaining that it is a phase they will go through during college. She then points to one young girl, telling her that she is the exception.
The sequence makes you winch and laugh at the same time.
The movie’s major flaw is the emphasis on Michelle’s family issues — or lack thereof. It adds an unnecessary artificial sentimentality to the movie.
“The Boss” is very predictable; the opening sequence basically telegraphs every future plot point.
McCarthy tries to work both sides of the fence — being a funny and selfish bitch, while also not letting filmgoers forget the reasons for her actions.
Also displaying his comic chops is Peter Dinklage as Renault, aka, Ronald, Melissa’s former lover whom she double-crossed and dumped and who has spent decades trying to get even with her. (It is Renault who rats Michelle out to the SEC.)
Renault considers himself a modern-day samurai and has the weapons in his high-rise office to prove it.
Because this is a comedy, everything works out well for everyone concerned, and you leave the theater feeling no worse for wear.
It’s a shame that McCarthy, Falcone and team decided to hedge their bets and work furiously to make Michelle somewhat likable.
“The Boss” would have benefited if they had just gone all in on making the disgraced titan hilariously despicable.
It would have made for a sharper and more satiric look at why the super-rich are not like the rest of us simple mortals.
Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and The Film Yap (filmyap.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Other reviews by Bloom can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.
2 stars out of 4
(R), language, violence, drug use, sexual content