Melissa McCarthy is one of the funniest women working in film today. When she commits to a character, she's ALL in, body and soul. In the last 3/4 of her new film THE BOSS, those gifts generate plenty of laugh out loud moments, even as the story meanders all over the place, or in this case, all over Chicago.
The first 1/4 of the film is the weakest, an almost laugh free depiction of Michelle Darnell (McCarthy) and her rise from orphan to one of the wealthiest motivational speakers in the world.
McCarthy arrives on stage in a flaming gold Phoenix statue, dances and raps with abandon and swears like a sailor.
Her loyal assistant Claire (an excellent Kristen Bell) and driver Tito (Cedric Yarbrough) are introduced, but other than a hilarious tooth whitening scene, the first 25 minutes is pretty flat and unfunny. At this point, I started to get worried that I was going to have to sit through another McCarthy misfire like "Tammy".
Thankfully, Darnell's arch-rival and former love interest Renault (Peter Dinklage having a LOT of fun sporting faux French and Asian affects and a very bad Euro haircut) turns her in for insider trading and she loses everything, forced to move in with Claire.
From the moment Darnell gets flipped by a sadistic sofa bed and she decides to start selling Claire's brownies as direct competition to Girl Scout cookies, the laughs kick in and rarely stop.
McCarthy created the character many years ago in improv and those years have paid off with a fully realized Michelle. From wardrobe to arrogance and from sofa bed to boardroom, McCarthy's Darnell is fully realized and profanely funnier than hell.
At one point, Darnell's Darlings (a red beret wearing troop of tough young girls with aspirations) have a knock down, drag out fight with their rival traditional troop that becomes a massive Tarantino style battle that (depending on your sense of humor) is gut-bustingly funny.
McCarthy and her husband and director here, Ben Falcone let the story wonder into predictable territory as Darnell bites the hand of the only family she has ever known and then has to seek redemption, but Bell and McCarthy are good enough to pull it off.
Tyler Labine is very funny as one of Claire's co-workers looking for a date, SNL's Cecily Strong delivers laughs as Claire's demented boss and Kathy Bates delivers in a small role as Michelle's mentor and investor.
McCarthy's best films (The Heat, Bridesmaids, Spy) have not been directed by her husband, but this is their best effort together, generating plenty of laughs after a rocky start.
Darnell takes NO prisoners. She's foul, nasty, politically incorrect and has no filter, just like THE BOSS.
We'll give it a B-.