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Boss, The

Universal // R // July 26, 2016
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ryan Keefer | posted July 16, 2016 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

It's good of Melissa McCarthy to show the world what kind of comedic form she's in heading into what may be the summer's most polarizing blockbuster reboot/remake/etc. in Ghostbusters with her role as Michelle Darnell in The Boss. It's certainly no clue as how one film will be based on the other, but if her work here is any indication, oh boy.

The film was written by McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone (Bridesmaids), the latter of whom directed, and was inspired from a character that she conceived during her time at the improvisational troupe The Groundlings more than a decade ago. Darnell is a hybrid of Martha Stewart's business acumen and Joy Mangano's perceived brashness. Michelle was in and out of the care of a Sisterhood of Nuns as a kid (the head nun is played ever so briefly by Margo Martindale, Justified), eschewed any advice from her mentor Ida (Kathy Bates, The Blind Side) and stabbed her friend Ronald (Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones) in the back for a promotion, but nevertheless has grown into a multimillion dollar industry of various products. She's arrested and imprisoned for insider trading and finds herself back in the real world in short order. She asks for assistance from her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars) to reclaim her empire with a simple product, and try to topple Ronald, now named Renault, in the process.

As I've said in the past with films like The Heat, there is some comic depth to McCarthy, but the problem is her reliance upon doing physical comedy is a deterrence from her ability. And on the latter, god knows there are plenty of opportunities for her to do that. She gets thrown against a wall, gets into a third act scrap with Dinklage, all the stuff she likes to do. And I get why she wants to do it, I just don't think she's funny in doing any of that stuff. Just as that act grew tired for similar comics before her, it's grown tired for McCarthy. Stop doing the dumb fall down stuff, and do comedy. She does seem to realize this in The Boss and responds accordingly, and there are moments where she shows some improvisational moments of charm and humor.

Compounding the problem of McCarthy's performance in The Bossis that those around her don't really give her a lot to work with and it hurts the film as a result. Bell portrays the stereotypical supporting character who grows and evolves from her time with the star in paint by numbers fashion (Bell's husband Dax Shepard appears in a cameo in the film because OF COURSE he does), and past that, Michelle spends most of her time with and around children. Sometimes the jokes are somewhat pleasant, other times you can see them coming a mile away. Dinklage commits to the silliness of his part, and his scenes with McCarthy are funny but they are few and far between. Bell's ‘assistant counterpart' in the film is Stephan, played by Timothy Simons (Veep), and Simons tends to stretch out a little for the performance and it's fine, if not a little erratic. Tyler Labine (Reaper) is cast as Bell's...friend? Love interest? Whatever, but his part is not fully defined and Labine does little with it.

This isn't to say that the film is blatantly horrible, McCarthy carries the film as she is capable of doing, and there is even a third act moment of emotional resolution that illustrates just how broad she can be. The story is harmless, but it does underachieve. Moreover, for a bunch of supposedly funny people in the ensemble, there is not all that much to laugh about when watching The Boss. Maybe, just as he just with McCarthy in The Heat, Paul Feig has to come in every couple of movies or so and unlock McCarthy's true talents. While Feig's not directing this, McCarthy does have her best friend behind the camera, but she's on an island of needless physical comedy in front of it here.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

The 1.85:1 transfer Universal proscribes for The Boss is good for the most part of the production. The opening moments show the "Chicago" skyline at night with deep levels of black sky that remain consistent through the film. Fabric and wood textures lack a bit of detail, though flesh tones and the film's color palette are accurate throughout (McCarthy's red wig looks natural without oversaturation). Things tend to soften as the film goes on but the sharpness returns near the end, in what is a good transfer from Universal.

The Sound:

The DTS-HD MA audio pounds the soundstage early, starting with Michelle walking out to the bass-heavy "All I Do is Win", but when things quiet down, Darnell getting tossed against a wall or generally doing the physical stuff has consistent low-end to it. Dialogue is also consistent and well-balanced and while the source material lacks active directional effects or channel panning, it's replicated nicely on video.


It's a fairly well-stocked disc yet doesn't have much behind it. An alternate ending (2:00) focuses on the kids and includes Dave Batista, and is underwhelming. As much as the deleted scenes are 10, 14:10), which have a couple of McCarty improvs that are funny, and some bleeps for whatever reason. "Extended/alternate scenes" (7, 16:15) are bland, save for a funny scene with Dinklage, and a gag reel (3:54) includes some pre-‘Action!' hamming. The original sketch that spawned the Darnell character follows (7:25), and "Origin Story" (7:16) looks at McCarthy from her Groundlings friends, and includes a lot of thoughts on her in a nice piece. "Peter Dinklage Gets to the Point" (8:41) looks at the actor, while "Everybody Loves Kristen Bell" (6:50) is kind of the same thing, and a little boring.

Final Thoughts:

The Boss looks like most other Melissa McCarthy movies that have come before it, with some slight differences in character nuance, and supporting cast members that don't have an active investment in what they, or her, want to do in the film. Technically and from a bonus perspective things are fine, but why would you want to see The Boss when you are more likely to run into a better, more polished, similar film from the same person?

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