Annie Mumolo, centre left, and Melissa McCarthy in a scene from The Boss.
Annie Mumolo, centre left, and Melissa McCarthy in a scene from The Boss. Photo Hopper Stone

FILM REVIEW: The boss ain't good

I LIKE Melissa McCarthy in pretty much every movie or TV show in which she's ever starred.

I also like the public stance she's taken on body image and in her own fashion line.

But there's no way I can give a glowing review to her latest comedy, The Boss, even if it is slaying it at the US box office.

I haven't been so perplexed by a movie in a long time.

The gist of the movie is that McCarthy's character, Michelle Darnell, is a wildly successful businesswoman - with a ruthless business strategy born out of a rough childhood as an orphan - who has a spectacular fall from grace when she is convicted of insider trading.

Poor Kristen Bell's character Claire, Darnell's former long-suffering assistant, is the unlucky person whose doorstep the disgraced mogul turns up on after she is released from prison.

It's not long before Darnell hatches a get-rich-quick plan, inspired by Claire's daughter's Girl Guides-type group, The Dandelions.

McCarthy is clearly very talented, and willing to do anything for a laugh, but The Boss is so disjointed.

It limps from one set-up to the next with seemingly half-baked writing in between.

I'm not sure of the last time I sat in a cinema and a movie made me laugh out loud one minute and then completely dumbfounded me the next.

I was actually taken aback by one scene in which two rival troupes of baked goods-toting girls get into a street brawl.

It's funny when McCarthy goes toe-to-toe with her character's nemesis (played by Bridesmaids co-writer Annie Mumolo), but it's more than a little disconcerting to see preteens (even if they are acting) pulling hair and punching and kicking each other.

What's more perplexing is how this film is killing it at the box office in the US.

It bumped Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice off the top spot, a victory considering that even though the superhero showdown was panned by critics, The Boss was made for nearly a 10th of its budget.

It's not that McCarthy doesn't have star power; she just needs a vehicle that supports and lifts her rather than lets her down.

There are so many elements of The Boss that feel random, like pretty much everything about Peter Dinklage's character (although he does have great chemistry with McCarthy) and why on earth McCarthy's Darnell religiously wears turtle necks pulled right up to her chin.

There is some great slapstick in The Boss, and some truly surprising gags, but they're outweighed by awkward writing and editing.

My other big issue with The Boss is that Darnell is essentially a bully who faces little to no consequences for her actions. There's no fall-out for the street brawl, and Darnell's version of redeeming her years of selfish business deals isn't exactly inspiring.

The Boss is the second McCarthy vehicle directed by her husband Ben Falcone (after 2014's Tammy). I've got to wonder why either of them signed off on this movie in its current form.

The Boss is in cinemas now.

The Boss

Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage, Ella Anderson, Kathy Bates.

Director: Ben Falcone

Rating: MA 15+

Reviewer's last word: Melissa McCarthy's comedic talents are as great as ever, but she alone can't carry The Boss's flimsy script.

Star Profile: Kristen Bell

Quirky fact: Her daughter Lincoln is included as a "Production Baby" in the end credits of the movie Frozen.

Best known for: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Veronica Mars, Frozen, House of Lies.

If you like this movie you'll like these: Spy, The Heat, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.

Quote: "I'm not a risk-taker. I don't do plunging necklines or really short skirts. I try to stay as classy as possible and provide a little mystery."

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