Monday, April 18, 2016

Movie Monday: The Boss

If you haven't seen Melissa McCarthy since her star turn in Bridesmaids in 2011, the trailer above will let you know that she's still playing the same character -- a gross-out gal willing to say or do anything to get a laugh.

McCarthy is a comic genius (really)  and the first plus-size actress I can recall who can carry a movie.  Working often with her husband -- screenwriter-director Ben Falcone -- she has starred in four films since 2012.  All were made on modest budgets of less than $50 million, and all reported ticket sales over $150 million.

In this current iteration, McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, a tough, self-made zillionaire who is jailed for insider trading and loses her fortune.  After her release, she is reduced to sharing an apartment with her assistant, the single mother of a tween daughter.  But Darnell has spunk and when she sees an opportunity to make another fortune, she grabs it.  The plot of course includes a sad childhood that gave the character her hard-shelled exterior, and there is redemption to be had, more or less.

New York Times critic Manohla Dargis said The Boss "is funny without being much good; mostly, it’s another rung on Ms. McCarthy’s big ladder up. It’s a fitful amalgam of bouncy and slack laughs mixed in with some blasts of pure physical comedy and loads of yammering heads."

That pretty much gets it right.

Besides the yucks, the movie has a very heavy Girl Power theme.

Darnell comes up with a business plan that enlists middle-school girls to sell cookies; she also encourages them to swear and engage in fisticuffs with other girls.  (All very funny, but would it work if the girls or their opponents were African American, or if the girls were boys?  Just asking.)

In addition, Darnell's assistant gets a love interest who's an amiable schlub; Darnell's frenemy lover, a much tougher character, is played by Peter Dinklage, who in real life is a little person.

Because she is talented and bankable, Melissa McCarthy can make movies like this for as long as she wants.  The critics have been wondering for the last couple years about whether she'll do anything else.  Will she always be the female Adam Sandler, or can she become the female Bill Murray?  We'll see.

Before The Boss, my last Melissa McCarthy movie was The Heat in 2013.  Unless she gets a new schtick, I'm probably not going to see another McCarthy film until, oh, 2022 or so.

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