Melissa McCarthy’s latest big, brassy comedy might be called “The Boss,” but it feels a whole lot like “The Donald” in spirit. McCarthy’s millionaire CEO/financial guru plays like a Trump parody, between her take-no-prisoners business philosophy, her spotlight-grabbing, self-aggrandizing bluster, and her preposterous, gravity-defying coif. When appearing before the faithful, she even makes her entrance to hip-hop — not litigious House of Pain, but infectious T-Pain, who cameos.
McCarthy’s Michelle Darnell also has a similarly uncanny knack for rebounding from a setback. Just don’t ever expect to see Trump devising a comeback strategy that leverages the market for Girl Scout cookies. (Unless that’s a gimmick still to come on “Post-Campaign Apprentice.”)
Michelle is humbled early on, as she’s busted for insider trading and the SEC drags her in kicking and screaming — literally, in one of several hilarious physical gags worked into the movie by McCarthy and director/husband Ben Falcone (“Tammy”). Getting out of prison to find all her property and assets seized, she crashes with her long-suffering assistant, single mom Claire (cutely harried Kristen Bell). Then, amid all the high-maintenance lounging around on her reluctant hostess’s sofa, inspiration strikes: Claire’s daughter, Rachel (sunny Ella Anderson), belongs to a Scout troop that hasn’t exactly got a killer instinct about hawking those shortbreads and mint-chocolate treats. And it just so happens that Claire knows a knockout brownie recipe.
What follows is even sillier, of course, and generally just as diverting. Michelle launches her new Darnell’s Darlings venture by rounding up girls with attitude, outfitting them in Guardian Angels berets, and profanely directing them to execute those brownie sales with extreme prejudice. A slo-mo, all-out brawl with their erstwhile troop sisters and the good girls’ snooty mom-in-charge (Annie Mumolo) is a deranged highlight.
Not that everything McCarthy and Falcone touch turns to comedy gold. There’s more truth than intended when Bell’s pushover stands up and calls her baggage-saddled boss “a cliché” for pulling away from her new surrogate family. And we’re mostly getting filler in a last-act caper sequence with Michelle, Claire, and Claire’s self-effacing beau (Tyler Labine) kung-fu fightin’ Renault (Peter Dinklage), Michelle’s ex and samurai-wannabe rival. But even here, we’re treated to amusing throwaways like fight-flattened Michelle attempting a martial arts kip-up, and instantly quitting with a groan. The loosey-goosey fun might be a bit much at the finish, but it’s still a laugh watching McCarthy try to get back on her feet.
★ ★ ★
Directed by Ben Falcone. Written by Falcone, Steve Mallory, Melissa McCarthy. Starring McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Ella Anderson, Tyler Labine, Peter Dinklage. Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs. 99 minutes. R (sexual content, language, brief drug use).
Tom Russo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.