The Boss is a formulaic redemption comedy the likes of which you’ve probably seen dozens of times, but if you really love Melissa McCarthy’s comedy chops, you might find a lot to appreciate here despite an overwhelmingly negative critical response. Ben Falcone, McCarthy’s husband and creative partner, wrote and directed The Boss with a strong emphasis on McCarthy’s feminine bravado, avoiding the dopey qualities of Tammy that earned that film such hatred. While you’re likely to see where the story is going more than an hour before it happens, the steps taken to get to the conclusion have some genuinely funny and honest moments.
While McCarthy’s performance here is strong, there’s a lot lacking in the supporting elements of the film. That’s not to say Kristen Bell, Ella Anderson, or Peter Dinklage acted badly, but their characters weren’t developed strong enough to counter McCarthy’s powerful energy. The weakest character in this bunch is played by Tyler Labine, who comes in during the second act to provide some extra comic relief as Bell’s new boyfriend. Unless you’re wooed over by his sensitive and water-cooler funny personality, you’ll find his presence rather pointless.
The biggest disappointment about The Boss, however, is its squandered potential, both in terms of humor and social commentary. Many scenes could benefit from just a little bit of punch up or reworking, and there’s a lot of mean spirited energy to the physical comedy that dampens juxtaposing lighthearted scenes, making much of the film feel tonally off. The Boss also aggressively steers clear of making comments about income inequality or capitalism in general, topics you would think belong in full focus in a film about wealth.
Despite all of these setbacks, I recommend The Boss to McCarthy fans based on her performance alone. This is unlikely to convert people who are tired or unimpressed by her antics, but fans like me will have a good time.