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Wednesday, Sep 22, 2021

‘The Boss’ provides touching laughter

"The Boss" offers hilarious, and often touching, comedy.

It gives a glimpse into the past as well as the inside life of Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy), a self-made millionaire who became a super-powered tycoon and motivational speaker through relentless work.

However, Michelle presents a rather conflicted character offstage. She is incredibly conceited, concerned only for her wealth and her status. But her empire comes to a halt, falling before her feet, as she is caught in an insider-trading scandal. She watches her fortune dwindle and eventually evaporate from behind bars. She is forced to take refuge after her release on the couch of the secretary she often maligned, Claire, played by Kristen Bell.

After taking Claire’s young daughter to a bake-sale meet, Michelle reveals once again her inner tycoon and businesswoman. She transforms once more into the almost heartless, and certainly out of control, dominant leader of the quickly expanding bakery business she has situated herself into.

“The Boss” is not so much about Michelle making an attempt to recreate herself. It would be compelling if it were, but it is not. Rather, it is a riff on a particularly vapid character. Michelle is presented as pitiable through the revelation of her past and how it has driven her to her current difficulties. She has immense qualms about becoming part of a family for fear of rejection and the audience only sees her as a pitiable character.

Overall, Michelle is flat, fails to develop, and is the same person she was at the inchoation as she is at the resolution. The only difference that the viewer may discern in Michelle is that, by the final moments, she is part of a family.

The film itself, though, is not lacking in slapstick and lewd comedy. Many instances appear utterly bizarre and yet are taken in stride by the characters in the film. Many other instances seem to flow directly from one another, posing no challenge to laughter from the audience. It is not a movie about witty comedy, and it certainly is not attempting to be one. But it does provide a nice venue for a relaxing evening. It is funny without the need for analysis, reference or attention. It is almost effortless, on both the part of the viewer as well as the characters.

“The Boss” is ultimately a touching comedy, if surreal. Beneath every chuckle in the film is a silent tug at the heartstrings of the viewers. It is at once sentimental and joyous.


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