The Boss
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The Boss

Melissa McCarthy, you’re breaking my heart.

There’s no question McCarthy is one of the best comic actors around. Her timing is impeccable, her charm a fascinating counter to her signature I’ll-do-anything gumption. And yes, I, like so many others, do get a kick out of the fact that this loveable force of nature doesn’t look like the stereotypical movie star. When Melissa is great (Bridesmaids, Spy), she’s amazing. But when the material around her doesn’t match her talent, watch out. Sadly, that’s the case with The Boss.

McCarthy has co-written this story of the corporate giant on the comeback after imprisonment for insider trading with her husband (and director) Ben Falcone and Steve Mallory. The set up’s not bad: an orphan constantly returned to the nuns, Michelle Darnell decides she doesn’t need a family. Ball busting her way on her own, she becomes one of the world’s richest women. Yet, after her stint in the Big House, nobody will take Michelle in. With shades of Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, Michelle rings the doorbell of her former young assistant (the game Kristen Bell), the only one in town who’ll at least offer her a couch. The comparison ends there.  A few other good actors get some work here, but the less said about what Peter Dinklage, Kathy Bates and Timothy Simons have to do the better.

How I want to root for a mass appeal comedy about women’s friendship and empowerment.  But the filmmakers seem afraid to go with what might have been their original basic concept. Michelle is beyond bawdy. It’s hard to root for a woman whose initial instinct, to encourage her protégé to dress better for a date, disintegrates into a long bout of bosom slapping. Channeling my thoughts:  the underused Kristen Schaal, who, as Michelle leads a group of young girls in a foul language and fist flying free for all is shown cringing and crying.  Now there’s a woman I can relate to!

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