The Boss (2016)

Released: April 8, 2016. Directed by: Ben Falcone. Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage. Runtime: 1hr, 39 min.

R-rated comedienne Melissa McCarthy and hubby-and-director Ben Falcone take a second shot at co-writing a screenplay together with The Boss after their first botched attempt in 2014’s Tammy. The good thing is this is a much funnier collaboration.

The basic story follows Michelle Darnell (McCarthy), the (fictional) 47th wealthiest woman of America. The film glosses over how Darnell makes money, simply billing her as a CEO of three Fortune 500 companies. It’s a poor-to-rich story, as Darnell grew up in the foster home system.

Her life gets ruined after she’s imprisoned for insider training. All of her belongings are seized and her house foreclosed, she learns when she’s released. She then stays with her former assistant and single mother Claire (Kristen Bell), basically the only person on who will give her a place to stay because no one is answering Michelle’s calls.

The story feels like Darnell is on a path to make money again, rather than redeeming herself as a person – which just comes out naturally. Her new business venture is a brownie company called Darnell’s Darlings.

She gets the idea after knowing the demand of Dandelions girl guide cookies, after taking Claire’s daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson) to one of the meetings. Claire is the baker for the company because she has a good recipe – and her motivation for helping is to get Michelle off her couch.

Michelle gets more likable throughout. But that’s easy considering her obnoxious introduction at a sold-out arena show about telling people how to make money – where she comes down on a golden phoenix to sing “All I Do Is Win” with DJ Khaled.

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Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Bell in The Boss. (Source)

The Boss is great example of how the essential falling-out of characters can ruin a film’s momentum. The clichéd moment arises because of Michelle’s lack of a family and fear of getting close to people.

The poor narrative is the film’s worst aspect. It feels like the jokes were written first, and then a story was shaped around them. To the credit of Falcone, McCarthy and Steve Mallory, there are many clever jokes and laugh-out-loud moments. That’s the redeeming part that makes this an entertaining film.

A flaw of the film is the fact that Melissa McCarthy gets almost all of the funny jokes. The film suffers when she isn’t on-screen. The character who misses the most is Peter Dinklage’s Renault, an aspiring samurai, or something. He’s obsessed with ex-girlfriend Michelle, where revenge is mostly on his mind, but he still has the hots for her even after she screwed him over.

His banter with his assistant Stephan (Timothy Simons) is simply awkward, but sometimes so stupid it’s almost funny. The character’s so poorly written that Dinklage just has to do his best with the crappiness he is given.

Kristen Bell’s Claire is simply boring – she only has a few good laughs to offer. She’s the set-up for McCarthy’s Darnell, characterized as a single mom who works hard for her daughter. We’re supposed to see Darnell as a really mean boss, but she’s not as bad as any boss in the Horrible Bosses franchise. Maybe we caught her on a nice week?

But Claire just keeps getting stuck with bad bosses, getting stuck with Dana Dandridge (Cecily Strong) when Michelle goes to prison. She’s supposed to be mean, but she’s cringe-worthy and awkward, ribbing Claire for being three minutes late at one point. Tyler Labine as Claire’s love interest is supposed to add a layer in Claire, but all it does is set up a funny scene when Claire prepares for a date.

The characters don’t work, and McCarthy is the best part about this. That’s high praise from me – since I’m not a McCarthy fan. Since everyone else is lackluster, it should be blamed on bad writing and directing from Ben Falcone. It feels like the next time the couple write something together – they should just hire a competent director.

Despite my problems with The Boss, I enjoyed myself and laughed a lot. That’s what counts here. While it may be weaker than any of the three McCarthy and Paul Feig collaborations – Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy – it’s a lot better than Tammy or Identity Thief.

Score: 65/100

 

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The Heat (2013)

The HeatRelease Date: June 28, 2013

Director: Paul Feig

Stars: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Marlon Wayans

Runtime: 117 min

The comedy genre is one of the most popular genres out there, but it’s very hit-and-miss. The comedy gem of the year so far is This is the End, but The Heat will produce more than a few laughs. And in a year of mostly mediocre laughfests, we have to take all the near-greatness we can get.

Uptight FBI special agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is teamed up with foul-mouthed Boston street cop Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) in order to take down a ruthless drug lord, Larkin. Things might go a little awry, because neither of these women have ever had a partner or a friend.

Sandra Bullock has always been a funny screen presence, and a talented one. Whatever she is called to do, she can do it well. Melissa McCarthy is also a funny screen presence, even if I prefer her on TV’s Mike and Molly. She has basically been playing the same roles in the movies ever since 2011’s Bridesmaids. (First Megan in Bridesmaids, then Diana in Identity Thief, and now Shannon Mullins here.) While that works for some actors, I’d really like to see her mix it up a little. That dirty, vulgar role might get old in a hurry. As her character of Shannon, she is funny, but even a sailor might be offended at some of the things she is asked to say. Most do produce laughs, and that’s just the point of a comedy; it makes you laugh.

The humour is raunchy as hell, but usually funny as hell. When I wasn’t laughing at the jokes, I was at least smirking a little. When it isn’t being hilarious, the likeable chemistry between Bullock and McCarthy really carries it along. The presence of Bullock really balances out the humour as well, and she isn’t just milking a straight man role. Both of these girls have lots of fun together joking around. There’s some quotable lines with a few memorable supporting turns. It’s great to see so many TV personalities on the big screen (most notably MADtv alum, Michael McDonald). Paul Feig knows how to bring it as the director as well, and I like the general story more than Bridesmaids, even if it isn’t anything special.

It’s really just your traditional buddy cop comedy. They’re trying to take down a drug lord, and blah blah blah, you know the rest. It’s one’s traditional, somewhat predictable ride. It’s a formula that works, and the Bullock/McCarthy team produce a lot of laughs. There’s lots of fun action and memorable jokes, even if they’re all vulgar and not all that clever, but they’re not repetitive or lazy, either. I appreciate the sweet core and sentiment underneath its mean spirit. It’s interesting how each character’s loneliness is shown; Ashburn only hangs out with a fat cat who has to go back to the neighbour’s when she comes-a-lookin’; and Mullins has basically been disowned by most of her family, for a reason I won’t spoil. It gives these characters depth, and you’ll probably like these characters a lot. The plot flows well and there’s a good comedic momentum – with a chuckle-worthy scene here, and a hilarious scene there. There’s one particularly gross and superfluous scene, though, that does nothing to advance the story. It feels as if they could get the message across a lot better in a much better way.

The movie balances out to a fun, somewhat predictable, but hysterical time at the movies. You’ll laugh out loud quite a few times, and that’s all that matters with a comedy. This isn’t the most memorable thing out there, but you could spend your money on a lot of worse movies. Check it out if you don’t mind your comedy often raunchy and incredibly vulgar.

75/100

Bridesmaids (2011)

BridesmaidsRelease Date: May 13, 2011Director: Paul FeigStars: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose ByrneRuntime: 125 min.

This film is usually very, very funny and features a breakout role from the charismatic Melissa McCarthy. However, I think it pans out like a traditional romantic comedy, with room for originality. Melissa McCarthy and other select characters really make the film. Honestly, I don’t like how McCarthy got so much recognition for this role. Let me explain. She’s hilarious in this, but I think this has restricted to her to dirty and crude roles in the cinema universe. She’s still hilarious, but I just wish she would be able to play more tame comedy roles, or not play such dirty characters, because she’s really quite pretty. She still is a great screen presence, but this type of character might get old really quickly. Anyway, it’s usually extremely funny, but I get bored when it’s not being funny. The main conflict between Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne’s characters becomes tedious to me. And that’s what drives the film, so that’s a problem… The runtime is just exhausting. I really think 50/50 should have received the Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards instead of this. I respect this for what it tries to be, and I do laugh a lot when I’m in the mood for it. I might re-watch it, take notes of when the funniest jokes are, and just watch those scenes.

Score69/100