Bitty Boss lacking bite
Comedian-turned-box office movie star Melissa McCarthy is in acquired taste.
Perhaps it’s no surprise when you take a look at her up-and-down CV; for every hit and likeable turn such as Bridesmaids and Spy there’s duds that include Tammy and Identity Thief.
For her fifth big screen lead role, the 45-yearold resurrects a character she originally created years ago at the Groundlings comedy troupe – the 47th richest woman in the world, Michelle Darnell.
The ruthless entrepreneur ends up spending time behind bars for insider trading and she faces a battle to win back her success, and the respect of her friends and colleagues.
McCarthy re-teams with husband – and her Tammy director – Ben Falcone and the couple of paragraphs above pretty much accounts for most of the script co-written by her other half and debut scribe Steve Mallory.
The rest of the time is spent letting their lead star off the leash with her most outrageous creation to date. Darnell works best when dishing out caustic putdowns and delivering devilishly honest sales pitches.
Her time in prison and attempts at delivering redemptive story arcs to make the character more sympathetic fall flat and Falcone and Mallory would’ve been wiser to stick with a Dirty Rotten Scoundrels-style black comedy approach for the entire 99-minute running time.
Darnell feels like she would be better suited to a short, Saturday Night Live comedy sketch rather than being stretched out to a full-length feature film.
It’s just as well, then, that The Boss is no onewoman show, and in its supporting cast the movie finds some of its mojo.
Kristen Bell (Claire) – who has quickly become a hugely reliable presence in the comedy genre – lets McCarthy inflict all sorts of verbal abuse on her, but shines through as the film’s true heart.
Just about stealing the show, though, is Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage as Darnell’s ex-lover Renault. The vain corporate shark may be a long way from Tyrion Lannister aesthetically, but shares his love for verbal jousting and scheming plots.
The Boss is far from a laugh-free zone and peaks with a memorably mad showdown involving two groups of rival Girl Scouts that wouldn’t look out of place in an Anchorman movie.
However, other gags range from throwaway and inconsistent to downright unfunny and the mid-section goes downhill faster than Eddie the Eagle wearing a jet pack.
Some comedies can endure the introduction of gooey schmaltz but The Boss isn’t one of them as Falcone fails to learn from the mistakes made with Tammy.
The result is an uneven hotchpotch of ideas and tonal shifts as inconsistent as McCarthy’s career path.