For eight years, starting in 1984, Tony Danza ran the Bower household on the television show Who’s the Boss? Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy) is an entirely different brand of leader in the new film The Boss. She brash, she’s raunchy, she makes human resources managers everywhere cringe and, oh yeah, she’s going to jail.
Although she is extremely wealthy, Michelle is sent to do six months of “hard” time in a minimum-security prison after being convicted of insider trading. Upon her release, it is abundantly clear that her life has changed. All of her assets have been seized and she seemingly has nowhere to turn. It’s then that she looks up her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell) and begs for her help. Despite Claire’s reservations, her daughter won’t let her send Michelle to the streets. Claire agrees to take in her former boss until she can get back on her feet.
After some moping and an attempt at a comeback, Michelle is struck by her next great idea. She is going to create Darnell’s Darlings, recruiting young girls to sell brownies made by Claire. It’s a little head-to-head competition for the Dandelions troop, as their cookies are no longer the only dessert choice on the block. Can Michelle impart her business knowledge to the youth of today, or will it simply be her raw behavior that sticks with them?
At its core, The Boss is a film that deals with a woman who could not be more alone. Michelle’s journey to the top was littered with people she stepped on along the way, and the only one she could ever fully trust was herself. Family is a dirty word to Michelle, and she has never experienced the love that comes from being wanted.
McCarthy is wonderful when she is making us laugh. She is great at owning the role of Michelle. The heights of the character are knocked out of the park, but she struggles a bit with the depths. Bell is the perfect cute-as-a-button naive foil for Michelle’s abrasiveness.
The language Michelle uses can be shocking at first, though as the movie progresses, we begin to embrace the troubled character McCarthy brings to the screen and know that the language fits right in with her background.
At times, it felt somewhat abrupt transitioning between scenes — almost as if a scene was out of place, or maybe there was content left on the cutting room floor. This leads to a start-and-stop feel throughout the second half of the film. I hope those missing comedic moments, if they do exist, eventually see the light of day.
Make no mistake: The Boss will elicit laughter from audiences — it did from me. Sometimes that laughter will be the result of cringing at some of the brashness of McCarthy’s character, but it will be laughter nonetheless. I left the film hungry for more comedic time with McCarthy and Bell, and maybe a brownie or two with a nice glass of milk.
The Boss is available beginning July 26 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
© 2015 Universal Studios Credit: Hopper Stone