With a gutsy, go-getting, and occasionally funny female lead, The Boss is dripping with potential, a potential eroded by mediocre writing and scenes which slip into the farcical. Some moments sparkle, aided by the film’s better gags, but they are hung upon a frail skeleton of a script.
The Boss is Michelle Darnell, played by Melissa McCarthy, who sprinkles as much brilliance into this role as she did in the much-loved Bridesmaids and The Heat, only this time she has her work cut out. Michelle is a wealthy entrepreneur whose default gaze is down her nose. She amassed her billions from nothing, coming from a background of neglect. Her do-or-die attitude propels her to the top, until she is arrested on account of insider trading and she has to start again from scratch, with the help of her humble former PA Claire (Kristen Bell).
The storyline runs more like a clunky man-made waterway than a free-flowing river. You can almost hear the wrenching of the precisely engineered plot twists, steering a clichéd path without too much preoccupation with logic. PA Claire is pulled obligingly into dicey ventures that are antithetical to her character and responsibilities. It also feels heavily cut. Michelle’s decline begins very early in the film, which doesn’t allow much time for her previous life of power and extravagance to act as the weighty anchor it should be to her crippling arrest. On top of this, bit-part characters brimming with potential importance are thrust in and dragged out with equal impatience.
For all the script’s shortcomings, there are flashes of astute humour. If the comedic balance was in favour of these subtle sharp-witted lines, rather than the over-the-top in-your-face slapstick that prevails, it would be a much stronger film. Michelle’s explosive and crass tongue occasionally delivers some darkly poetic put-downs, and to these The Boss owes many of its highlights. Despite this, you can’t help but feel if Michelle Darnell herself was sat in front of this movie she would, in her own words: “cut it loose and walk away”, in her ruthless, heartless, and sadly only periodically funny manner.
The Boss is released nationwide on 10th June 2016.
Watch the trailer for The Boss here: