No, this isn’t a reboot of the ABC sitcom or movie about Bruce Springsteen. Melissa McCarthy, ever since her Mike & Molly TV show got cancelled, has had more time now to do feature films. SPY was hilarious and a huge hit, she’s in the newly rebooted Ghostbusters in July, and then a V/O gig for an upcoming animated feature film. So, what about The Boss, a movie based on a Groundlings character she created? Let’s see…
McCarthy plays Linda Darnell, an unwanted orphan that clawed her way to the top to become a brash, over-the-top, outspoken, zero internal filtered motor-potty mouth that is one part female Donald Trump, and two-parts Suze Orman. Her exasperated personal assistant is single mother Claire (Kristen Bell), who plays nursemaid to this whirling dervish of narcissistic bombasity.
But one day, Darnell’s former jilted lover and super-mogul Renault (played with superb weirdness by Peter Dinklage) gets her arrested for insider trading and her entire empire collapses overnight. After Darnell is incarcerated and left nearly penniless, she turns to Claire for support and a place to live. She meets Claire’s 11-year-old daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson) and is told, while Claire’s at work, to take her to her Dandelion’s Troop meeting (think Girl Scouts).
It’s there that Darnell’s inner financial guru bells go off. Why should a kid sell a box of Dandelion cookies at $7 a pop and get nothing for it in return? Her solution? She creates her own ‘Girl Scout’ troop called Darnell’s Darlings and sells Claire’s delicious brownies for big bucks. Her own troop of kids are comprised of cut-throat little girls that don’t “no” for an answer, especially 6′ ft. Chrystal Delvechio (Eva Peterson, who steals the movie) who’ll drop-kick you till tomorrow.
Meanwhile, there’s a possible office romance blooming between Claire and her nerdy desk-mate, Mike (Tyler Labine). But things take a turn for the worse, when the revenge-minded Renault decides to buy-out Darnell’s Darlings after their profits go sky-high.
There’s the usual misunderstanding between girlfriends, the break-up, a corporate take-over, and everyone getting back together through insurmountable and ridiculous odds in the third act. But through it all, Darnell, spiky ginger-haired and impossibly high turtle-necked clothes wearing is there to either liven things up… or make the situation really uncomfortable.
Written by McCarthy, her husband Ben Falcone (who also directed), and Steve Mallory, this hysterical comedy makes up for Tammy, that terribly unfunny mess that starred McCarthy and was written and directed by Falcone back in 2014. This is classic McCarthy at her best with her rapid-fire one-liners pitted against kewpie-doll faced Bell, who manages to hold her own against McCarthy’s machine-gun fire pacing.
It’s a screwball story alright and, although the plot is mediocre and predictable, starts off wickedly funny and subversive, then manages to lose some steam in the third act. To the screenplays credit though, it does generate some of the ROTFL scenes ever. The hostile Dandelion meeting take-over scene is a riot and the Peckinpah-staged street fight scene between the two girl troops are easily my favorites. Look for small cameo’s with director Falcone as Darnell’s lawyer and Kathy Bates as wealthy industrialist Ida Marquette.
Smack dab in the middle of her successful TV career as Diane Chambers on the hit TV show, Cheers, Shelley Long did a few remarkably bad B-movies (Outrageous Fortune, Hello Again) and a few good ones (The Money Pit, The Night Shift). This one falls somewhere in the middle.Shelley, dazzling red hair and oh-so-cute, plays Phyllis Nefler, a clueless Beverly Hills ultra-rich fashionista who’s soon to be divorced from her philandering husband, Freddy (Craig T. Nelson). She spends and spends and spends all his money, but still has time to be mommy to their 12-year-old daughter, Hannah (Jenny Lewis). Phyllis gets the bright idea to be troop leader to Hannah’s Wilderness Girl’s pack (think Girl Scouts), a gaggle of seven highly-privileged pre-teen girls who are without a leader. But vindictive and really nasty head scout leader, Velda (Betty Thomas), will hear none of it!Despite Phyllis’ complete lack of social skills
and epic fails in the past, she manages to guide her Troop Beverly Hills into camp-outs (first in the woods, then at the Beverly Hills Hotel), shopping on Rodeo Dr., creating their own merit badges, and selling 4700 boxes of cookies to high-end businesses and celebrities. Meanwhile, Phyllis and Freddy are nearing their divorce time, while Hannah pleads for them to stay together. Phyllis, abandoning all her luxury and social position, bonds with the girls (a really touching scene with a young Carla Gugino), which sends Velda over the edge in trying anything to sabotage the troop. That includes having her flunky, Annie (Mary Gross), sent in as a spy.Naturally, it all boils down to the Wilderness Jamboree and which troop can complete a grueling hike through the mountains… and make it back in one piece. Through perseverance, valor, and sheer dumb luck, the Beverly Hills girls troop come out on top (even saving Velda’s life in the process) and it ends with a ridiculously happy little bow tied up. Ain’t that nice?
On the plus side, the film has retro opening animation credits and a whole bunch of cameos peppered throughout the movie like Cheech Marin, Annette Funicello & Frankie Avalon, Pia Zadora, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It also has a very young Tori Spelling as an evil scout girl. Typecasting? If you’re into clothes, you’ll drool over the fashions here. Every scene is shot with Long wearing some fantastic designer dress or customized scout apparel. The budget for this film must have gone all into the costumes!
The script, by Pamela Norris and Margaret Grieco Oberman (both SNL writers), had some genuinely funny moments, but the cookie-cutter plot and characters were clichéd and predictable; typical for the 80’s, as was the synthesized soundtrack. Each of the kids were talented, without going into ‘Super Disney-cutsie Land’.
Jeff Kanew directed this with quite a few peculiar moments: many scenes seemed that they should go on longer, but were cut at the wrong time. This meant many jarring moments when you’re enjoying a scene and then boom! Gone! It’s cut way too soon and ruins the flow.
Trivia: Carla Gugino, who plays Chica, lied on her casting notice to get the part. She said she was 14, but she was actually 16. By the time the producers found out, it was too late to replace her. Carla has since been in Sin City, Night at the Museum, and the recent San Andreas disaster film.