Blu-ray Review: The Boss (2016)

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The great news about The Boss on Blu-ray (due July 26) is that Universal Studios has packed in a whole bunch of fun features that Melissa McCarthy fans will appreciate. The not-so-good news is that the film itself is a lazy mess. Considering the popularity McCarthy has enjoyed in recent years, The Boss met with surprising struggle at the box office. In addition to the many deleted and extended scenes we find on the Blu-ray, the origins of the film can be seen in McCarthy's Groundlings Theater performance that first introduced her Michelle Darnell character. What was funny live onstage in a seven-minute bit hasn't really translated to feature-length status.

It's similar to the typical problem with so many SNL-based films. Tim Meadows' "Ladies Man" character, for instance, was funny in small doses on TV, but it made for a thin, heavily-padded film. And so it is with ruthless businesswoman Michelle Darnell, whose self-made empire comes crashing down when her business rival (and ex-lover) Renault (Peter Dinklage) tips off authorities about her insider trading. Michelle loses pretty much everything, though her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell) remains sympathetic.

Claire lets Melissa, newly released from a minimum security prison, crash at her place. Once she gets a taste of Claire's homemade brownies, Michelle sees her chance to come back in a big way. She decides to take on the Dandelions' (ersatz Girl Scouts) cookie sales. While the Dandelions donate their proceeds to non-profit organizations, Michelle envisions a business model in which the girls keep their profits to seed college funds. 
Boss troops (380x253).jpg Early on there are minor laughs (not among them is the disturbing mouth-stretching device Michelle uses to have teeth-whitener applied), but the paper-thin plot quickly dissolves into often mean-spirited antics. That's one of the common pitfalls of starting with a character and trying to build a story around that alone. McCarthy, who co-wrote with director Ben Falcone (also her husband; the pair collaborated on Tammy, also disappointing but funnier than this), apparently had too much faith that her Michelle characterization was enough on its own.

Claire and her daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson), for some reason, develop a strong bond with Michelle as they basically attempt to overturn the well-intentioned Dandelions for their own personal gain. A violent street brawl between the Dandelions and Michelle's competing girls is obviously meant to be a comic high point—it's staggeringly misguided and devoid of laughs. Jokes at the expense of some of the girls' physical appearance come across like bullying. As Michelle's rivalry with Renault ramps up (he wants to buy and control the blossoming brownie business), The Boss takes a turn into screwball heist territory. By this point, it feels like Falcone and McCarthy simply didn't know what to do with their character. 
Boss kristen bell (380x254).jpg But again, Universal has tossed in some fun extras. In addition to the aforementioned original sketch video, we get more on the beginnings of Michelle Darnell in the "Origin Story" featurette. Even though there are outtakes during the film's closing credits, there are even more in the special features. Deleted and extended scenes total a very generous 30 minutes. A pair of featurettes serve as actor showcases: "Everybody Loves Kristen Bell" (seven minutes) and "Peter Dinklage Gets to the Point" (eight minutes).

Additionally The Boss Blu-ray package includes a standard DVD and a Digital HD download.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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