For a comedian who comes on like gangbusters, Melissa McCarthy has had a rocky time finding the right vehicle for her unfiltered raucousness and zingy timing. Last year’s Spy came closest: McCarthy’s co-stars—Rose Byrne, Jude Law and Jason Statham—helped tease out unexpected grace notes from her audacity in overdrive.
But The Boss, directed by her husband Ben Falcone, who also helmed Tammy, isn’t boss at all. McCarthy plays brassy, big-business tycoon Michelle Darnell, who, after serving time in prison for insider trading, moves in with her former assistant (Kristen Bell) and her young daughter (Ella Anderson). The plot involves setting girls up in the brownie-selling biz to earn money for college. Crude gags mingle with squishy, underdeveloped messages about family and belonging and empowerment. And while self-abasement is part of the comedian’s toolbox, there’s something depressing about watching as a chortling Michelle airs her unmentionable area while spraying herself with self-tanner. McCarthy deserves better than this. She can aim higher.
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