Movie review: McCarthy shines as ‘The Boss’
–It would be easy to dismiss Melissa McCarthy. She long played a supporting character on TV, then got her own starring gig on “Mike & Molly,” a reasonably popular CBS sitcom that is frequently over looked and under appreciated.
In between, she blew up as a crass, delightfully hilarious supporting player in “Bridesmaids.” Since then, McCarthy has played a number of similar characters in a variety of films. Some, like “Spy” and “The Heat,” have worked thanks to her talent and the ensemble. Others, like “Identity Thief” and “Tammy,” have fallen flat.
Looking at the trailer for “The Boss,” it’s tempting to assume it falls into that latter category. But this is a sharply written film that makes the most of its cast in creating a delightful Spring comedy.
“The Boss” centers on mogul Michelle Darnell (McCarthy), who is soaring to the top in her field and the envy of millions. She often isn’t kind, however, especially to her assistant Claire (Kristen Bell). Part of it is her upbringing — she was the kid who was never adopted at the orphanage — which causes her to be uneasy letting people in.
Michelle also has a chief rival — Renault (Peter Dinkledge) — a former lover who now wants to crumble Michelle’s empire. When Renault learns that she used insider information to execute a stock trade, he turns Michelle in. Soon, Michelle finds her assets seized, companies gone and herself in a minimum-security prison.
When Michelle gets out, she finds she doesn’t have anywhere to go, doesn’t have anything left and doesn’t have any friends. Out of pity, Claire lets Michelle stay with her and her daughter, Rachel (Ella Anderson). It’s there that Michelle finds her way back to the top — through a brownie empire — and discovers there’s more to life than selfish ambition.
McCarthy is a unique comedic talent. She can channel so many outlandish characters, but she does it in a way that keeps you hooked and keeps those characters relatable. That’s the case with “The Boss.”
The film opens with a wild arena presentation sequence that sees McCarthy rapping alongside T-Pain. It’s unexpected, it’s hilarious and it launches you into this film. But McCarthy also delivers some beautiful emotional scenes, too.
She has a good cast to play off here, and that helps. Bell is great in the supporting role, playing the straight woman against McCarthy’s crazy Michelle Darnell. Dinkledge, who is best known as Tyrion on “Game of Thrones,” does a good job with his role, too. He slides into this comedic performance and matches McCarthy in their craziness on screen.
The story here is predictable, and the production is fairly predictable, too. The screenplay was co-written by McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, who also directed the film. Clearly they have a good rapport together, and that helps.
But this kind of film succeeds or fails based on McCarthy, and how much she can make you buy into the character she plays. Here, I thought this worked and had plenty of funny moments. It’s not an incredible film, but it’s an enjoyable watch with quirky characters and amusing scenes.
This time of year, that’s all you’re really looking for in a comedy.
“The Boss” has been rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for sexual content, language and brief drug use. Enter with caution.
Three stars out of four.