Friday, April 8, 2016

The Boss [2016]

MPAA (R) CNS/USCCB (O)  ChicagoTribune (1 1/2 Stars) (1 1/2 stars)  AVClub (B-)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars w. Expl)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (M. Zoller Seitz) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review

The Boss [2016] (directed screenplay cowritten by Ben Falcone along with Melissa McCarthy and Steve Mallory) is, PARENTS NOTE, above all AN ADULT ORIENTED (if at times surprisingly insightful) COMEDY. 

The film is R-rated for reasons that become obvious as the story / jokes progress.  REPEATEDLY there appear situations that most Viewers would considered WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE for younger members of one's family.  To go into greater detail would both enter into spoiler territory and frankly into territory that would _make me blush_ as I am trying to maintain my blog here as a Catholic one ;-).  So at minimum PARENTS - PLEASE SEE THIS FILM ON YOUR OWN _before_ "letting the kids see it."  I would add though that I simply _can not_ think of ANY _credible_ reason why a minor would "need" to see this particular film prior to turning 17 (and thus being able to see it legitimately ...)

Okay, so why then review a film such as this, much less consider it favorably?  Well, Dear Readers, IMHO there are situations in this film that are IMHO authentically funny, and in their goofy way the film-makers here offer us Viewers a quite interesting and even _insightful_ "snapshot" into our culture / society today.

For Melissa McCarthy's character Michelle Darnelle, a cross between Leona Helmsley and Martha Stewart PRACTICALLY _CHANNELS_ Donald Trump HERE and NOT (!!) in a slanted or particularly negative way. 

Instead, we're introduced to McCarthy's Michelle Darnelle as a hard-nosed but _successful_ businesswoman who _did have to overcome_ some very difficult obstacles in her life:  We see in the film's opening sequence that she was an orphan, abandoned by her parents, and then abandoned _repeatedly_ by a whole slew of foster / adoptive parents until, as a teenager SHE DECLARES: "I don't need ANYBODY, I'm just going to BECOME RICH."  and, well, ... SHE DOES ... become WILDLY, UNBELIEVABLY SUCCESSFUL / RICH.

The next scene in the movie has her speaking at (presumably) a "$50-100 a pop" motivational seminar AT a SOLD OUT United Center here in Chicago where she's assuring tens of thousands ADORING FANS: "Follow me, follow my example, and I'll make you SO RICH you won't believe it." Yes, Dear Readers, I told you that she practically channels Donald Trump in this movie, and again, NOT in a bad way.  Her adoring seminar attendees believe her.  MORE TO THE POINT, it would seem THAT SHE BELIEVES HER PROMISES AS WELL.

Well, of course, there's a "Fall from Grace."  A jilted fellow billionaire / former lover of hers, Renault (his actual name is Ronald ... which, come to think of it is just one letter from Donald ;-) played by a PERFECTLY CAST Peter Drinklage), rats on her to the Feds and ... soon Ms Darnelle finds herself doing 4 months (! ;-) of "hard time" in a "Club Fed"-like prison for ... pampered financial criminals.

But ... the damage has been done.  When she gets out of the (very classy) joint, quite tan from all the tennis she had been playing ;-) ... she finds that she's lost everything on the outside in the meantime and needs to crash at the flat of her former, formerly put-upon "personal assistant" Claire (played again quite excellently throughout by Kristen Bell). 

But one can't keep a driven, formerly spectacularly successful person like Michelle Darnelle down for long.  So after trying to make herself useful (remember, she has no job, nor any money anymore) by picking up Claire's kid Rachel (played wonderfully by Ella Anderson) after school and taking her to Girl Scout-like "Sunflower" meeting, Ms Darnelle has an honestly quite hilarious if certainly subversive "Epiphany" to get her "back into the game":

It turns out that the "Sunflowers" (like America's Girl Scouts) sell cookies.  "Why?  What do these 'Sunflower girls' GET out of selling those cookies?" asks Darnelle.  (Honestly, a spectacularly interesting / iconoclastic question ;-) ;-). 

"Well nothing," answers Claire, "The money that they make goes back into programs offered by the Sunflowers."

"Well, Rachel, what are some of those 'programs'?" asks Michelle.  Rachel honestly doesn't know, can't answer the question effectively.  AND ... as a result an IDEA is born:

Michelle creates an alternate Black Panther (!)-like (denim uniforms, red berets on their head, fist high in the air as their salute) "Counter Group" to "The Sunflowers" which she calls "Darnelle's Darlings," who then sell chocolate brownies (made by Claire) to (often _indimidated_ ;-) passerbys in competition to the Sunflowers' cookies. 

An interesting difference between the two groups becomes that "Darnelle's Darlings" would directly get a 15% cut (commission) from their sales and another 15% would be deposited into "a college fund" created for each of the girls.  Okay, so where would the other 70% go?  Well, to Michelle (and Claire ... Claire's baking all the brownies after all...).  Michelle makes _no bones_ about this being a FOR-PROFIT enterprise.  Indeed, she sees _this_ as _her_ way to "make it back to the top" ;-).

Much then ensues ... ;-)

Now back to the film's crudity.  One could certainly imagine that this story could be told in a _much less_ crude and _far more_ child friendly way than Melissa McCarthy and her director husband Ben Falcone chose to do.  Yet, it is clear that the two _chose_ to make the film in this way. 

The question is of course "why" and the answer may be again similar to the reasons given by Donald Trump's Presidential Campaign for _his_ rather outlandish / provocative antics: "to get people's attention." (It may be _also_ a question of talent / ability.  McCarthy / Falcone and then Trump may honestly not be able to do better.  They MAY honestly be simply rather crude people.  But then another question arises: Should one _immediately_ disqualify someone or someone's ideas simply because the person expressing them is "rather crude?") 

It is clear though that in both cases -- McCarthy / Falcone and then Trump -- they succeed, and like-it-or-not, in both cases McCarthy here and Trump in his campaign, say and do things that shock but also challenge / take down sacred cows.

So like it or not, this is actually a _quite interesting_ (and insightful) film ;-).

Good job!  Sort of ... ;-) ... but again PARENTS do keep the kids away from this one.

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