Melissa McCarthy is one of the funniest actresses out there. I’ve been a fan of McCarthy since her days on Gilmore Girls, and she’s proven to be quite a comedic genius. McCarthy’s new comedic venture, The Boss, is directed by her husband, Ben Falcone. The screenplay is written by Falcone himself, along with McCarthy and Steve Mallory. It is some sort of salute to making a modern-day remix of Troop Beverly Hills, a movie that came out in the 1980s. The Boss was released in theaters in 2016 and is now streaming on Netflix.
Being a former Girl Scout, I could not help but laugh my way throughout this movie. Critics don’t love the film, which is a depiction of an underdeveloped storyline of “family matters”. But while this isn’t the funniest McCarthy movie I have ever watched – The Heat being my personal favourite – I think it was a much needed slapstick comic relief that did not need much thinking. It was a movie to be enjoyed for what it is and what it offers.
The crudeness of the comedy won’t be for everyone, though. I took the enjoyment in watching a Girl Scout gang war break out in a quiet, posh neighborhood. I like the movie’s unspoken acceptance of the reality that the obnoxious narcissism fueled by money and power is a gender-neutral thing. It’s refreshing to see and hear jokes about relationships and sex from a female point of view.
McCarthy plays the role of Michelle Darnell, the 47th wealthiest woman in the world. She’s a narcissistic millionaire businesswoman but is also a well-respected self-help guru and businesswoman extraordinaire. Michelle Darnell is raised in an orphanage where she is repeatedly paired up with possible adoptive families who all rejected her and sent her back to the nuns. This sets the premise for her demeanour and why she acts a little inappropriately towards other people, especially to people she thinks low of.
Michelle fills huge auditoriums with people who’ve come to hear her preach the gospel of wealth and autonomy: cutting off people who are dragging you down, not giving a damn to what anybody thinks of your ambition and appetite, doing whatever you have to win over a competition. Michelle makes her entrance on a huge sculpture of a phoenix which she claims is her spirit animal totem. Her over-the-top rapping and pyrotechnics for something along the lines of a TedTalk is the first good laugh of the movie.
She is not without challenges along the road to her success, though. Michelle ruffled a few feathers. She made an enemy on one of her former lovers, Renault (Peter Dinklange of the Game of Thrones). Renault gets Michelle arrested for insider trading. “Everyone does it,” says Michelle during her arrest. She is given five-month jail sentence.
When she gets out of prison, she is literally a nobody – penniless, homeless, no property or status to brag about. She asks the help of her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell), and her daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson). Michelle lost everything she once had, including all her elite friends. She has no one else to turn to but Claire, who is also a bit hesitant to take her in because of her known tactlessness and obsession. But Claire’s daughter convinces her mother to lend a helping hand to a woman in dire need of one.
Claire lets Michelle take her daughter to the Dandelions meeting. A trip with Rachel to a Girl Scout meeting then gives Michelle a money-making idea: let Claire bake delicious brownies, market them with a team of kids as vendors, and work her way back up to the corporate ladder.
Michelle’s new business plan, Darnell Darlings, is a brownie-peddling youth group dressed in outfits that would pass at a 1960s communist rally. The logo Michelle uses even adorns a WW2 Japanese flag background. She also knows the type of misfit girls she is looking for and how to motivate them to jump into her business.
All profits made from the cookies for Dandelions goes to the headquarters but the Darnell Darlings get to keep a percentage of the profit for themselves. Claire even argues that the money for the Dandelion HQ should go towards programmes for the girls.
Michelle has a natural gift of the gab and loves using vulgarities at pretty much everyone. She gets into a fight with one of the mothers at the Dandelion meeting. She says, “my tongue is my sword”. These clashes eventually lead to an Anchor Man-style no-holds-barred brawl. In one of the funniest physical comedy moments of the movie, the two groups fight against each other over a selling territory.
Renault, the vengeful ex and wannabe samurai, sees Michelle’s success. Still not over their awful breakup, Renault plots ways to bring Michelle down again, and to throw her flourishing brownie enterprise into the dump. Claire is approached by Renault to sell over the company to him and while she turns him down, Michelle thinks Claire has betrayed her.
Despite Michelle’s best efforts, she starts to see Claire and Rachel as her family. Having been rejected several times when she was young, Michelle gets scared with the affection and love she feels for the two people who accepted her when had nothing but herself. Michelle runs away and sells the company to Renault, which she believes has already been done when Claire sold her out. But Michelle later on regrets her deeds that affected the girl scouts who helped her establish the brownie company.
And despite the cold and heartless façade she has put up when she was still on top of her game, Michelle admits her faults and asks for forgiveness from the people she hurt. She has stepped on people when she was still the millionaire businesswoman. But then again, she is just a pained and damaged woman who doesn’t know how it feels to be accepted and loved for who she is.
This weekend, indulge in a box of thin mint cookies or brownies as you sit back on your soft couch and get a good laugh from the slapstick comedy The Boss. You deserve this kind of chill.