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The Boss' fails to take charge

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McCarthy's performance can't elevate sub-par script

The best comedy happens when the talents of everyone involved are firing on all cylinders. A script that offers both solid jokes and room for improvisation meets a cast with the willingness and ability to bring it to life, all under the auspices of a director and production team who know just when and how to insert themselves.

However, if one or two legs of that comedic tripod fail to hold up their share of the weight, the whole enterprise comes tumbling down, regardless of the relative strength of the still-upright leg.

So it is with 'The Boss,' yet another fairly uninspiring effort starring Melissa McCarthy. Despite her best efforts which are considerable the film never manages to overcome its thin narrative and tonal inconsistencies. There are laughs, but not nearly as many as there should have been.

McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, a business tycoon whose ruthlessness and refusal to allow close personal connections have led to the building of a financial empire. Her longtime assistant Claire (Kristen Bell, 'Zootopia') helps run the show and is extremely loyal despite Darnell's dismissive and disrespectful attitude towards her.

However, when Darnell's business rival Renault (Peter Dinklage, TV's 'Game of Thrones') turns her in to the SEC for insider trading, she winds up losing everything and spending five months in a minimum security prison. At the end of her sentence, she leaves prison and, penniless and friendless, turns to the only person she can Claire.

Michelle moves in with Claire and Claire's young daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson, 'Unfinished Business') despite Claire's misgivings. But when Michelle takes Rachel to a meeting of her cookie-selling Girl Scouts knockoff, she has a big idea one that could maybe even take her back to the top.

Unfortunately, her new plan puts her at odds with a number of people mean mom Helen (Annie Mumolo, TV's 'About A Boy') and Renault in particular but will her desperate quest for success cause her to push away the only ones who were there for her in her time of greatest need?

It should be said up front that there are some comic set pieces here that I really enjoyed. There's a fairly lengthy kid brawl that is delightful in its over-the-top absurdity. There are some jokes and gags that hit with authority. Unfortunately, those moments occur far too infrequently, thanks to a script penned in part by McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone (who also directed the film). Much of the writing feels derivative and a bit lazy, leaving the cast largely dangling in the wind.

And what a cast it is. Honestly, it's almost a crime for such a talented ensemble to be so poorly utilized. McCarthy has got legitimate comedic chops, but the sad reality is that her work here is more of the same. She's got some range, but her insistence on continually playing foul-mouthed pratfallers is getting a bit tired. She's working hard, but the payoff is less than stellar. Bell does some OK work playing the straight man, but there are a few spots where she just looks lost. Dinklage is smarmy and weird and off-putting in ways that only work as well as they do because of his commitment to the bit. Other cast members include Kathy Bates as Michelle's mentor, Kristen Schaal as the troop leader of the faux Girl Scouts and Maine's own Tim Simons (perfectly cast as Renault's assistant he and Dinklage are delightful together).

And yet, despite all of that talent, things never really come together. It's not for lack of trying McCarthy is clearly giving it her all and the rest of the cast is doing their respective bests in an effort to keep up but sometimes, effort just isn't enough. 'The Boss' can never seem to get out of its own way, resulting in an uneven film whose handful of very funny moments simply can't overcome the overarching sense of mediocrity permeating much of the script.

Basically, one leg the cast is as strong as you could ever want. Unfortunately, the script (and to a lesser extent, the director) can't perform up to expectations. In short, 'The Boss' should have been fired.

[2.5 out of 5]

Last modified on Sunday, 17 April 2016 12:41

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