Review: Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Bell Keep ‘The Boss’ Afloat

The buoyant chemistry between Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Bell keeps this slight comedy afloat in the face of a thin storyline and an uneven tone. In full-on firecracker mode, the limber McCarthy is clearly enjoying herself revisiting a character she first developed in her days as an improv performer with the famed Groundlings troupe.

The actor has the ability to spin comedic gold from the shallowest of premises, and she puts that ability to good use throughout several set-pieces here, the most notable of which involves her mouth being awkwardly propped open as she gets her teeth whitened by the put-upon Bell.

Cedric Yarbrough (Reno 911!, BoJack Horseman) is on fine form, albeit briefly, as McCarthy’s sycophantic bodyguard, Tito, and other small roles are filled by welcome supporting players like Cecily Strong (Saturday Night Live), Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords) and Bridesmaids screenwriter Annie Mumulo, who played opposite McCarthy in the actor’s breakout airplane scene in the 2010 smash hit comedy. Peter Dinklage also goes all out with another nutty accent.

Elsewhere, the increasingly ubiquitious ‘character-gets-flung-across-the-room-via-CGI-trope’ (à la Bad Neighbours‘ airbag gag) is rolled out, indicative of the desperate nature of much of the comedy here. Although this satisfied my minimum requirement of three laugh-out-loud moments (they’re more like elevated snickers), the pleasures it offers are ultimately a little more ephemeral than the earnest character arcs seem to intend.

The talent on-screen keeps things watchable, but you’ll have forgotten the whole thing by the time you reach the parking lot.

‘The Boss’ Movie Times

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