The Boss uses Melissa McCarthy’s shtick for the better and for the worst.
There’s an interesting dynamic between unapologetic assholes and the people who are drawn to them. In the first half of the film, Michelle instructs a stadium-packed audience to discard anyone whose dead weight. By the way, this happens after a sing and dance number in which she descends to the stage while riding a phoenix to the tune of “All I do is Win” by T Pain.
Melissa McCarthy, one of the few who actresses in Hollywood who doesn’t fit the required standard but still get jobs, is comfortable in a role from a script she co-wrote with her husband Ben Falcone. She’s joined by a reliable supporting cast including Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage, Tyler Labine, and newcomer Ella Anderson.
Unfortunately, the movie insists on being a Melissa McCarthy showcase, and taking the movie’s potential elements for granted. Worse, The Boss misuses McCarthy’s brand of humor, turning her into a tiresome character that’s as unfunny and one-dimensional as the rest of the cast.
The movie shifts gears in the second half where The Boss turns into a dramedy about family, belonging, and empowerment. There’s nothing wrong with these themes. The problem is they’re underwritten in a story that’s as generic as a Hallmark card.
As a kid, Michelle Darnell is dropped off in front of the orphanage after her family of the year returns her like damaged goods. Naturally, she turns into a selfish self-absorbed narcissist. She’s an ambitious woman who has no qualms about stepping over anyone for her own self-interest until a tacky but well-meaning framed picture melted her stone-cold heart.
McCarthy’s brand of humor doesn’t fit in this feel-good movie, resulting in tonal shifts that prevent the whole narrative from coming together.
Her previous roles in “Bridesmaids” and Spy worked because her easily aggravating role is tempered by other amusing characters. Here Kristen Bell, who plays as the straight man against McCarthy’s over-the-top mogul, has nothing to do. Peter Dinklage does his best even with vapor thin material, but his efforts are wasted. There are also interesting minor characters here such as Darnell’s mentor and assistant, but they’re underused.
In the end, The Boss is just Tammy 2.0.
The Boss is a generic dramedy lead by a tiresome one-dimensional she-devil.