Sunday, 12 June 2016

The Boss (2016) (Review)


Melissa McCarthy's The Boss came marching into cinemas on Friday after its US stint back in April, alongside a barrage of negative reviews and weaker-than-usual box office grosses. But as a McCarthy fan, I'll give any of her work a go; even 2014's Tammy which is her biggest misstep to date. I was rather skeptical of the project, given that The Boss is another team up with husband Ben Falcone in the director's chair opposed to Paul Feig who helmed the stellar Spy, Bridesmaids and The Heat. Take it as my pleasant surprise then, when it turned out that I absolutely loved it. I am not at all ashamed to admit that The Boss was stunningly hilarious.

Michelle Darnell (McCarthy) is one of the richest women in America when she is arrested for insider trading, destroying her image in the process and sending her to prison for five months, losing her business empire, possessions and staff. Finding herself homeless and with nowhere to go, she visits her ex-employee Claire Rawlings (Kristen Bell), whose daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson) convinces her to stay with them until she is back on her feet. From then on, Darnell must work out a way to climb back to the top - by recruiting Dandelions to Darnell's Darlings and create a brownie empire with her new found 'family'. However, with scheming Renault (Peter Dinklage) doing everything in his power to stop her, Darnell must makes something difficult decisions.

Melissa McCarthy, no surprise here, is the absolute heart and soul of the film. From the film's opening moments, she is responsible for laugh after laugh, unwavering in her live-wire energy, conviction and delivery. She throws herself into everything - even the moments when the film borders on being utterly predictable - to really elevate her performance beyond that which other comedic actresses would even consider. One would argue that this is one of her best roles (even if the material is not as strong) and defies the argument that she can only play one character. The rest of the cast may not be able to stand up to McCarthy completely, but Bell and Anderson form a lovely relationship and help add to the film's emotional aspect, whilst Dinklage brings a few laughs as the jealous and bitter Renault/Ronald. A special shoutout must go to Kristen Schaal as the hilariously timid Dandelion leader Sandy who gets walked over completely. We all know someone like her, which makes it all the more amusing to see.

Genuinely, some absolutely hilarious moments can be found in the 99 minute run time that are fired at one hundred miles an hour, bouncing between set pieces that all work and pay off, helping to showcase the cast's potential with the right material. I cannot talk about them all, because frankly there are too many, but just some of the funniest moments include: Plan A, Introducing Michelle Darnell, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dandelion meetings and my absolute favourite, Dandelions vs Darlings. All of these are anchored by perfect comedic timing (usually from McCarthy) and a cast who give it their all, with confidence and affirmation. It sets the standard of laughs so high for the first two acts and makes the film fly by in a fit of giggles. Referring back to my favourite moment, the use of slow motion, matched with our stars dominating presence, create one of the most memorable scenes from the genre's past few years, as well as the very opening moments in which Ms. Darnell arrives on the back of a golden phoenix, followed by a performance which would not be out of place at the Superbowl Half-Time Show. 

It is such a shame when the film takes a sharp detour as we head towards the conclusion into sobriety. It doesn't at all render the film unenjoyable, but holds back on the number of laughs in favour of serious emotional stakes; for me, it doesn't work, considering the bar was set so early on with the laughs, but I accept that otherwise may disagree. The tonal shift for the final act makes the film a little more formulaic than I would have liked heading for the climax but it still manages to stand above the year's other comedies (namely, the underwhelming How To Be Single featuring another favourite comedian of mine) so I can forgive the decision to bring in some more drama because it is still relatively humorous. 

The Boss is another vehicle to demonstrate Melissa McCarthy's comedic talent and flair which cemented her win as MTV Movie Award's first ever female winner for the Comedic Genius Award earlier this year, managing to bring some of the scripts duller moments to life while managing to make the genuinely hilarious moments even bigger and better than expected. Without her, I cannot help but think the film would collapse around her, but her involvement (matched with the character and supporting cast) make the film a success. I struggle to comprehend the negative reviews for this film, as it is nothing but enjoyable from start to finish. A success that should tide McCarthy over until Ghostbusters, in just a few weeks...

Highlight: Melissa McCarthy and her talent, which is displayed in abundance.

Summary: Melissa McCarthy is absolutely The Boss, adding another notch to her belt of impressive comedy and hilarious characters, registering in the higher end of her filmography, despite what reviewers would have you believe.

(8/10)

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