IF YOU'RE NOT ALREADY watching Melissa McCarthy on Gilmore Girls (currently streaming on Netflix and in heavy rotation at my house), you're doing yourself the worst of disservices. As Sookie, Lorelai Gilmore's best friend, McCarthy had a laser beam focus in every scene—practically stealing every one of them. These are the types of actors who get work, so it's little surprise she hopped from numerous TV series to co-starring in major films (like Bridesmaids), eventually landing leading roles in Spy, and now The Boss. And while it may not be the funniest film you'll see all year, moments of the movie just might be.
Imagine a somewhat less disgusting female version of Donald Trump, and you've got Michelle Darnelle (played by McCarthy with a perfectly coiffed bob and a turtleneck which is constantly threatening to eat her face). A former orphan fueled on anger, she builds a corporate empire happily stepping on everyone along the way, until eventually her hubris lands her in jail and she loses everything. Broke and alone, she relies on the kindness of her former beleaguered assistant (Kristen Bell), with whom she plans a comeback—one that eventually involves beating up Campfire Girls.
Very much like in Spy, McCarthy's humor relies on a foul mouth and extreme physical comedy—and it works largely because of her aforementioned laser beam focus, and a fierce determination to milk every laugh from a scene. But she doesn't arrive there gracefully. The first act of The Boss is clunky, clumsily written, and forced, but thanks largely to a cast of gifted improvisational actors (including the terrific Cecily Strong, Kristen Schaal, Timothy Simons, and PETER MOTHERFUCKING DINKLAGE—who is so hilarious, he gives McCarthy herself a run for her money), the movie eventually gels and the laughs come fast and furious.
While the plot is your basic paint-by-numbers remake of Uncle Buck (bad person gets adopted by good family, becomes good person), McCarthy turns on the focus, cranks up the pratfalls, and reminds you once again that she really knows what she's doing.