Yet The Boss’ opening moments showcase McCarthy’s brilliance at basking in excess. (And wearing it: Outfitted in turtlenecks that stretch to the chin and bows the size of spinnakers, her ensembles suggesting what might result if Wendy and Lisa developed their own line
That’s just one of many hilarious scenarios we are left to imagine — another is Michelle telling an enemy that his sainted dead wife is “fuckin’ IT guys in hell” — and McCarthy’s delivery and timing are, as ever, flawless. “My tongue has always been my sword,” Michelle boasts, words that also apply to the woman who plays her. McCarthy created the bumptious mogul roughly 15 years ago while a member of the Groundlings; as she did with Tammy, the actress co-wrote the script of The Boss with Falcone. (Steve Mallory, who met both McCarthy and Falcone as a fellow Groundling, also has a screenplay credit.) McCarthy’s long history with the character likely accounts for the fact that The Boss, at least initially, has a tighter plot than Tammy and is less reliant on dumb throwaway gags.
But like the earlier movie, The Boss gives its star few, if any, hitting partners. It’s a baffling decision, considering that McCarthy is not only a terrific ensemble performer, as her breakthrough turn in Bridesmaids demonstrated, but also a generous lead when working with a scene-stealing supporting cast, as evidenced in last year’s riotous Spy. McCarthy’s
Claire proves a dull foil: She may upbraid her former overseer, but her chastisement is always softened by Bell’s inveterate sunny blandness. (I wish Bell’s part had gone to Cecily Strong, the SNL star who here plays Claire’s supervisor at a miserable office job; as is the case with her bit role in The Bronze, a patchy comedy released a few weeks back, Strong’s talents are completely underutilized in The Boss.)
McCarthy must also share the screen with Peter Dinklage, an actor with no demonstrable gift for comedy, who plays Michelle’s vengeful ex-lover Renault. Complications arising from the scorned swain’s payback scheme, plus Michelle’s invariable redemptive quest to be incorporated into the nuclear unit of Claire and her daughter, set off the disastrous last act. These closing scenes include a wearying caper to retrieve documents from Renault’s office, a plot thread that too prominently features the
The rapport between the veteran comic genius and the neophyte, even in the few scenes they share, suggests that McCarthy may next want to buddy up not with a peer (like Sandra Bullock in The Heat) or with someone a generation older (Susan Sarandon in Tammy) but with a kid at least 30 years her junior.