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Film review: The Boss

Film & TV

This slapstick comedy starring Melissa McCarthy may push the boundaries of humour.

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The latest goofball comedy starring slap-stick comedian, Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy), as business shark, Michelle Darnelle, was clearly inspired by the woes of Martha Stuart who spent time in jail for insider trading.

The Boss, which also stars Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, Frozen) as Claire, Darnelle’s straight-laced single mum assistant, and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) as Darnelle’s psychopathic ex, hell-bent on taking everything she has, isn’t particularly complicated.

Darnelle is a business mogul, right down to the helmet hair, power-dressing and ridiculously high necklines, who goes to jail for insider trading. When she gets out, she finds her empire is gone and no-one wants to know her. The only person soft enough to stick by her is Claire and after Darnelle moves in with her and her daughter Rachael, Darnelle devises her way back to the top —through a girl scout, brownie movement.

The enjoyment in this movie comes from the character of Darnelle — she’s brassy, inappropriate, foul-mouthed and falls down a lot— against the foil of Claire who just wants to be a good mum and provide for her child, the pairing does work well. One particularly memorable scene involves the two in a kind of ‘boob boxing bag’ gag. Dinklage is also excellent as Ronald, now ‘Renault’, the ex she rejected 25 years ago and in so doing, created a mortal enemy. ‘Renault’ has his own empire, thinks he’s a Japanese warrior, and is suitably psychopathically creepy. A sublimely ridiculous scene sees him and Darnelle in a Samurai sword fight atop a skyscraper.

While The Boss was funny and watchable overall, it kind of lands in middle-of-the-road territory. It seems a bit ‘genre confused’, at times trying to push the emotive character baggage angle, at others the pure slapstick (McCarthy does fall down quite a lot) and at others still, the purely ridiculous. The slapstick was a bit over the top in places, though, and kind of inappropriate. Maybe it’s cultural, but is a bunch of girl guides and their mums getting into a hugely physical punch-up really that funny, or just a bit cringe-worthy? Likewise with the jokes about sexuality, ‘fatism’ and disability — easy targets that are tired and not particularly smart, innovative humour.

If you’re a McCarthy fan, you’ll know what to expect — basically more of the same. It’s enjoyable, but not must-see hilarity. Go see The Boss if you want a dose of foul-mouthed funny one-liners, fat people bouncing off things and Tyrion Lannister trying to conquer the western trading world.

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