Movie Review: The Boss
By Ben Gruchow
April 14, 2016
With The Boss, Falcone and McCarthy (who shared writing duties with Steve Mallory) are clearly aiming for a style of comedy that's laced with observations on character deficiency and stunted emotional growth. No complaint from me there; great comedy comes from pain, and McCarthy has the range to land them both (not for nothing was her dinner-table monologue in Identity Thief one of her best moments in the sum total of her work as an actress, even though it couldn't come close to rescuing the movie around it). What handicaps their work here, as it did last time, is a total inconsistency of tone and timing.
The Boss is a “funnier” movie than Tammy, in the sense that more of its intended jokes result in a laugh, but they're often not the kind of laugh that you feel particularly good about having afterward. When a moment truly does land, as during Darnell's deliriously scathing put-down of where the Dandelions' funding goes, it's usually because of McCarthy's unwavering commitment to the moment at hand. For every one of these, though, there are two moments (like a series of quiet but heated exchanges between Darnell and Dandelion mother Helen (Annie Mumolo) where we may crack a smile at the snark on display while being aware of how lazy the movie is being in getting our reaction.
And then there are the heaps of content that just plain don't work at all, like an endless back-and-forth between McCarthy and Bell over date attire and breast size and shape, or the miscasting of the bland and one-note Cecily Strong as a Darnell-worshipping power executive. Or a painfully unfunny extended joke about fellatio as a distraction. Or a pull-out couch with violent tendencies. Or Renault.
Dear me, Renault. This is a fatally misconceived, overdeveloped antagonist. As played by Dinklage, he's not funny, or frightening, or sharp. He does not in the least fit within the gossamer strands of fabric the movie's universe has thus been able to conjure for itself. The origin of his adversarial relationship with Darnell is arbitrary and tiresome. Whenever he appeared on-screen, the movie grinds loudly to an embarrassing halt. I wanted to shrink into my seat, or disappear into my phone…anything to avoid experiencing the reality of the moment. I felt bad for Dinklage. This is the type of role the actor discusses in termination clauses with his or her agent; if they don't, they ought to.
I think there is a good film waiting for Falcone somewhere down the line; he is demonstrating a desire to meld comedy with drama in a way that makes me understand why McCarthy would be drawn to the concept alongside a bevy of respectable talent. He needs to develop as a director; the movie's few kinetic and capering moments suffer from a clunkiness of camera placement and movement, and a slackness of editing. And he needs to show the same boldness with his story elements as he does with his concepts; these have thus far retreated to the most straightlaced and predictable of possible outcomes. The Boss is the better of the two films on their shared résumé, while still being distinctly bad on its own merits. I prefer to be the optimist, and hope for better down the line.