It’s hard to define good taste, but it’s easy to recognize its
absence. That’s the problem with The Boss.
So much of Melissa McCarthy’s new movie is hilarious that it’s frustrating to
watch it cross the line and never quite recover. Even the punchline gag is
unfunny and left the audience I saw it with audibly uncomfortable—and strangely
silent. That’s not how you want to have people leave a theater.
McCarthy is in top form as the world’s 47th
richest woman, a self-made billionaire whose unhappy childhood at an orphanage
and a series of foster homes has made her ferociously self-reliant and ruthless
in her business dealings. Just ask her onetime boyfriend, Peter Dinklage, with
whom she is now engaged in a blood feud. He rats her out to the government and
looks on with smug satisfaction as she is imprisoned for insider trading. When
McCarthy emerges from the hoosegow she has no one to turn to except her
longtime, long-suffering assistant, single mom Kristen Bell and her wide-eyed
daughter (nicely played by Ella Anderson).
The premise of The
Boss, written by McCarthy, her husband Ben Falcone (who also directed) and
Steve Mallory, is pretty good. McCarthy creates an outrageously funny leading
character whose non-stop, potty-mouthed insults are hard to resist, even if
you’re embarrassed to be laughing at some of them. But when she starts a Girl
Scout-like organization to sell Bell’s delicious brownies the film takes an
unexpectedly ugly turn, especially in one scene that I won’t describe. You’ll
know it when you see it.
If you’re a dedicated McCarthy fan you’ll still want to see The Boss. It made me laugh out loud,
which doesn’t happen all that often. But I came away discouraged that the
talented people who made it couldn’t deliver the solid, satisfying comedy it
might have been. McCarthy’s talent deserves, and demands, better.