Michelle Darnell is a Fortune 500 CEO and inspirational “get rich quick” speaker — a mashup of Martha Stewart, Tony Robbins and Jordan Belfort – whose empire crumbles around her in the wake of insider trading charges. At rock bottom, sleeping on the couch of her former assistant, wearing turtle necks like she’s going to dethrone Diane Keaton, she has an eating epiphany. Using the premise of girl scout cookies and the delicious brownie recipe that her assistant’s been feeding her to sooth her melancholy, she finds her phoenix ride back to the top. The lasting negative effects of McCarthy saturation with The Identity Thief had this critic approaching The Boss with trepidation. To my pleasant surprise, just like the unexpectedly hilarious SPY, The Boss gives a McCarthy character originating from her early improvisational days in Chicago’s ‘Second City’ a cathartic whole film.
The fundamental failure of the remake of Arthur (starring Russell Brand) was largely that ultra rich, “poor me” eccentrics had expired as an archetype. The wounds of the Global Financial Crisis ran deep. Now that post incarceration Martha Stewart roasts Justin Bieber, and the success and timeliness of The Big Short, writers Ben Falcone (who directs), McCarthy and Steve Mallony find a way to may you sympathise with Darnell’s past to make you cackle at her exploits. Falcone brings some scope and some spunk to his time behind the lens. Firstly being assaulted by Darnell (McCarthy is his wife) in his brief cameo he crafts some fun set pieces; particularly slow motion, girl scout street fighting that would make Sam Peckinpah give a thumbs up. The Boss loses its way largely because McCarthy cannot kill this darling that’s been haunting her and hubby Falcone since their improv days. The further it paints her vulnerability toward the end of the film, the more laborious it feels.
McCarthy is at her best when she drops Darnell amongst civilians and children. When she’s getting aggressively intimate with Annie Mumaolo’s nosy Helen, the hostile mum of another girl scout, you’ll be bursting. The horrified reactions of girls watching this housewife be eviscerated by this shark of a woman is beautiful; in the most sadistic way.
Kristen Bell plays Claire, Darnell’s former assistant. She takes up the “straight man”/Dean Martin position alongside McCarthy’s Jerry Lewis. Ella Anderson plays Rachel, Claire’s daughter, and she finds the heart in Darnell’s tin man. Tyler Labine pops in as Claire’s love interest Mike and he’s got such a desperation to please that he’s lead into some strange and entertaining chicken suit-wearing, fellatio-offering scenarios. Peter Dinklage embraces the weird as Renault, the samurai obsessed, former lover and now business nemesis of Darnell. Keep an eye out for Dinklage with a mullet; it’s too perfect for words.
Blake Howard – follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman