Movie Review: ‘THE BOSS’ goes for broke and ends up penniless

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James Cole Clay// Film Critic

THE BOSS | 99 min | R
Director: Ben Falcone
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen BellPeter Dinklage, and Tyler Labine

Melissa McCarthy’s brand of humor works and will continue to work on many levels. She’s a world class improvisor, she’s physical, and best of all, she’s likable no matter how you serve her up on the big screen.

Take her latest comedy THE BOSS for example: She has an ability to elevate so-so material to a level that allows McCarthy to shine in every scene. It’s just difficult to find those who can keep up with her energy.

This is the second time McCarthy has paired up with director (and husband) Ben Falcone for a film. The messy 2014 comedy TAMMY made a light splash at the box office and suffered from similar tonal shifts that get lost within the inconsistent brand of humor. With THE BOSS, it appears the duo are getting back to basics with a simple riches to rags plot where the rich buffoon learns to love again, which has its genuine moments, but falls apart at the seams when the humor deviates from McCarthy’s brilliant slapstick bits.

McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, the 47 wealthiest woman in America. She speaks at elaborate stage seminar’s with T-Pain singing, “All I do is win, win win, no matter what” as she dances to pyrotechnics and flaunts her status to a crowd of thousands. We never really know what she does, but her personality is somewhere in-between Leona Helmsley mixed with some Martha Stewart. She’s sent to jail for insider trading after her competitor and former lover Renault (Peter Dinklage) tips off the SEC for her white collar crimes. Just when you think Dinklage couldn’t embarrass himself on the big screen any more than last year’s PIXELS, he misses the mark again with a character that’s creepy and rather pointless to the narrative.

Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Bell (Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Bell star in THE BOSS. Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Darnell makes her way to see her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell), when the next minute she’s crashing on her couch despite the approval of Claire’s daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson). Bell (essentially playing the straight man) and McCarthy have nice chemistry in sentimental moments, but something is off comedically. They shine in the ad libbed moments, especially when McCarthy gets to spew a string of obscenities to anybody within an earshot. McCarthy, Falone and Steve Mallory’s script brings every bit of momentum to a grinding halt with plotting. This character could work in an ANCHORMAN style of production with a little innovation.

THE BOSS is clearly sending up the idea of the American capitalist in a way that could be painfully relevant to the modern age. And while McCarthy is no doubt an immense talent, she’s needs a little shepherding to find her way back to success.

THE BOSS opens nationwide today.