After “Spy” became one of the biggest and most acclaimed comedies last year, many were excited to see Melissa McCarthy return headlining a new movie, “The Boss” (opening this weekend). But critics think you should skip it and wait three more months to see her in “Ghostbusters.”
“The Boss” has a funny-enough premise: McCarthy playing a narcissistic millionaire businesswoman who loses everything after going to jail for insider trading and comes out broke but driven to get back on top. But she’s clueless on how to live without hired help and unlimited funds.
It’s the script, however – written by McCarthy, director Ben Falcone (McCarthy’s husband), and Steve Mallory – that many critics say is uninspired and can’t match the talents of McCarthy’s physical comedy.
With only an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie looks like a hard pass. But RT scores don’t seem to hurt McCarthy’s box office. Her past movies like “Identity Thief” and “Tammy” didn’t get above 25%, but they made over $100 million worldwide.
Before the box office decides the fate of her new comedy, let’s dive into what’s bugging the critics about “The Boss”:
Where’s the funny?
Putting it bluntly, critics didn’t find “The Boss” funny.
“There are nearly no laughs in this picture, and in a movie that bills itself as a comedy, usually you can see the performers working for laughs of some kind at least part of the time,” wrote TheWrap.
“It’s a comedy that seems perpetually in search of laughs it almost never finds, as if the filmmakers showed up on the first day of production, looked at the script, and realized they’d forgotten to write any jokes, and then had to scramble to find some on set,” according to ScreenCrush.
There’s too much dirty language that doesn’t serve any purpose.
Melissa McCarthy has never been shy with foul language, but sometimes it can be taken too far, and some critics were turned off by the constant curse words.
USA Today said, “‘The Boss’ feels like it’s going for a slightly more subversive ‘Bad News Bears’ vibe, before it turns overly mean-spirited as four-letter words fly around kids.”
“If they gave out badges for smutty language, this movie would have lots. There’s nothing wrong with that. But filthy doesn’t automatically equal funny,” wrote the New York Daily News.
Beware of cheap jokes.
From pratfalls to a brawl between two rival teen-girl groups selling baked goods, the movie will do anything for a laugh.
“‘The Boss’ hurls McCarthy down flights of stairs when there’s no opportunity to be clever; one gag literally throws her against the wall, as if the writers could only decide by seeing it if their idea would stick,” wrote The Guardian.
“The comic spirit of ‘The Boss’ is just coarse. The smackdown competition between the Dandelions and the red-beret-sporting Darlings relies on vicious, artless slapstick, in between bits such as Darnell spray-tanning her upper thighs or mooning an 11-year-old,” the Chicago Tribune said, referring to McCarthy’s character, Michelle Darnell.
McCarthy is better than this.
The trend we’re seeing in McCarthy movies is that, sooner or later, the jokes get serious, and for a moment her characters search for connection with others.
“McCarthy is better at digging for feeling in a raucous comedy than most people who try it, and it feels like a waste of talent to throw that away,” The Verge said.
Critics applaud the attempt at seriousness, but think that her movies make it hard for genuine feeling.
Or, as Time puts it, “McCarthy deserves better than this. She can aim higher.”