The Boss review

There is no doubting that Melissa McCarthy is talented. She can play sweet and kooky (just look at her seven seasons as Sookie St James on Gilmore Girls) or just plain funny – as she was in films such as Bridesmaids, The Heat and 2015's terrific Spy. But she seems to flounder when she turns her hand to nastier characters – such as 2013's Identity Thief, or 2014's Tammy. And now in The Boss – co-written by McCarthy and directed by her husband, Ben Falcone – she is once again trying to wring laughs out of a nasty persona, it doesn't quite work.

the boss 2016 blu rayAbandoned as a child, Michelle Darnell (McCarthy) was bounced around from foster home to foster home, but raised mainly in an orphanage. So in her teens, she decided that she was going to make something of herself, become massively successful and show the world what for. Unfortunately, along the way, she failed to learn how to also be a nice person. When we meet Darnell as an adult, she's a self-made millionaire and corportate hotshot – the 47th wealthiest woman in America – doing a gig as a motivational speaker. But when she's convicted of insider trading and sentenced to four months in jail, she soon learns that being a tough, nasty bitch does not win you friends. When she gets out of prison, she's penniless and all her assets have been siezed, so she turns up on the doorstep of her former assistant Claire Rawlings (Kristen Bell) looking for a place to crash. So she bunks in with Claire and her daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson), and when Michelle learns that Claire bakes a pretty mean brownie, a business plan is hatched.

There's some nice work from McCarthy as far as physical comedy goes – she's certainly not afraid to throw herself arlound or make herself look stupid. And there are some funny lines, too. But the character of Michelle really has no redeeming qualities and remains mostly unlikable throughout the film. The saving grace of The Boss is the always watchable Kristen Bell, who here tends to outshine the star of the film for most of its running time. She plays the perfect foil to McCarthy's wackiness, and works hard to keep things grounded, and if it wasn't for her the entire film would really go off the rails. There's also a somewhat amusing subplot involving a fellow corporate giant named Renault (Peter Dinklage), Michelle's longtime nemesis and former lover; Dinklage is always fun when he pops up in a film. But the script just lacks oomph, relies on crudity a bit too much (when it comes to grossout comedy, Hollywood, less is more, OK?) and the genuinely clever gags are too few and far between. Talents such as McCarthy, Bell and Dinklage deserves a lot better.

EXTRAS: There are two versions of the film – Theatrical and Extended, which is about five minutes longer and has a few more laughs in it. The bonus itself consists of: an Alternate Ending (2:00), featuring the Falcon Rangers, led by Chad (Dave Bautista); 10 Deleted Scenes (14:10), including Convention Center Opening, White Sox, Claire Gets Hired at Her New Job, Claire Plays Chess With Rachel, Darnell Enterprises Building Lobby, Walking to Dandelion Meeting, Hallway Prior to Dandelion Meeting, Michelle Plays Chess With Rachel, Michelle Visits Tito, and Helipad Epilogue; seven Extended/Alternate Scenes (16:15), including Bed Flip Scene, Carrot Top, They Do Look Moist, Kendo, Michelle Returns the Key, Security Guard, and Breaking Into Renault's; a Gag Reel (3:54), which contains bleeped versions of the outtakes that run, unbleeped, over the final credits; the Original Michelle Darnell Sketch (7:25), from The Groundlings improv theatre in LA in 2005; the featurette Origin Story (7:16), a further look behind the scenes at The Groundlings; the featurette Peter Dinklage Gets To The Point (8.41); and the featurette Everybody Loves Kristen Bell (6:50), which is 100% true and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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