The Boss
dir Ben Falcone
scr Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone, Steve Mallory
prd Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay
with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage, Ella Anderson, Tyler Labine, Kathy Bates, Timothy Simons, Kristen Schaal, Michael McDonald, Annie Mumolo, Cecily Strong, Margo Martindale
release US 8.Apr.16, UK 10.Jun.16
16/US Universal 1h39
The Boss
Mouth-stretching hilarity: McCarthy and Bell

dinklage bates schaal
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The Boss Melissa McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone reteam for another high-concept comedy that simply isn't funny, despite strong characters and potentially hilarious situations. And it certainly doesn't help that the plot contrives to create a series of sappy emotional twists that never ring true.

Rock-n-roll financial guru Michelle (McCarthy) clawed her way to the top. But her empire comes crashing down when she's sent to prison for four months for insider trading. On release, all of the people she crushed on the way up want nothing to do with her, especially her nemesis Renault (Dinklage). With no money left, she turns to her assistant Claire (Bell) in need of a place to stay. Unable to get back into business, she throws herself into selling cookies with Claire's daughter Rachel (Anderson) and her Dandelion Scout troup.

As they showed with Tammy, Falcone and McCarthy have a strangely basic approach to comedy, just throwing abusive interaction and physical humiliation on the screen and hoping it might elicit a laugh. This is in stark contrast to McCarthy's genuinely witty turns in Spy, The Heat and of course Bridesmaids. Then this movie goes even further, tipping into a wildly sentimentalised look at family ties. Aside from the generally cute scenes from Claire's life, most of the humour here hinges McCarthy's up-for-it approach to physical comedy.

Yes, McCarthy is full-on as Michelle, a vividly realised character who's so driven to succeed that she notices absolutely nothing about anybody around her. McCarthy is lively enough to be watchable no matter what she's doing, but none of the film's humour emerges from Michelle's personality. Instead, it's all comedy of shock and embarrassment. Dinklage is rather amusing as a cartoonish villain and Bates (as Michelle's mentor) adds some snappy sass. But only Bell is likeably naturalistic. Her scenes with Labine (as her potential boyfriend) are the best in the film.

It's odd to see a film in which such a large number of pratfalls aren't remotely amusing. But the real problem here is that the script completely ignores the bigger themes it touches on, from white collar crime to capitalistic greed to the difficulty of shaking free from the past. McCarthy has proven herself as a gifted performer with spotless comic timing, but Falcone (who pops up in a likeable cameo) is clearly not the right director to bring it out on screen.

cert 15 themes, language, innuendo 25.Apr.16

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