Melissa McCarthy is funny in anything and everything. And in her latest comedy The Boss she gets a lot of laughs. If the sole measure of a film comedy is generating laughs by that standard it succeeds. The problem is, there is more than can be done with a major comedy acting talent.
McCarthy’s “Michelle Darnell” grows up an orphan who bounces from one foster family to another. Rising above and giving the shaft to anyone and everyone she encounters along the way, she becomes the 47th wealthiest woman in the U.S. But like another famous female CEO, she gets nailed for insider trading and winds up serving time at “Club Fed.”
When she is released she find almost everything she owns has been seized. She learns that what’s left of her possessions in the hands of her assistant, “Claire Rawlings” (Kristen Bell). Turns out that there is not that much and when it is clear that Michelle has nowhere to go, Claire’s daughter “Rachel” (Ella Anderson) insists that they let Michelle stay with them. While Claire knows instinctive that this is not a good idea, she reluctantly agrees.
After the typical sinking to rock bottom sequence, as shown in one of the film’s trailer, we see Michelle forced to take Rachel to her Dandelions meeting. Like the Girl Scouts the Dandelions are modeled on, they sell cookies. Michelle has a brainstorm. She has become addicted to Claire’s homemade brownies and deduces they would be a smash hit if sold by a group of girls. This is the genesis of her creation, the Daisies, better known as Darnell’s Darlings.
The brownies are amazingly successful and soon Claire has quit the job she hated. Michelle goes to her mentor, “Ida Marquette” (Kathy Bates) to invest in the brownie company. In spite of the fact that Ida was just another person that Michelle shafted on her way up, Ida agrees.
Things go awry when “Renault” (Peter Dinklage) decides he wants to take the company over. He’s been seeking revenge on Michelle for something that happened when the two were young and working in the same firm. Michelle betrays Claire and sells out to Renault after she sees Renault and Claire talking. This leads to the improbable third act where Claire, Michelle and “Mike” (Tyler Labine) attempt to steal the contract from Renault’s office. Mike is Claire’s new boyfriend in the required romance expected in this type of comedy.
As a film designed to generate laughs, director Ben Falcone succeeds. What’s missing is something to care about. Anyone who didn’t know that the horrible person would be redeemed before the end of the film is there solely for the laughs and that’s just fine. However to elevate a comedy above the ordinary it needs more than just laughs, unless it’s just after raunchy or cheap laughs without regard to coherent plot. This is where ‘The Boss’ is not quite so boss.