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The Boss (2016)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 7/26/2016

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/7/2016

Some actors fear becoming stereotyped or "pigeonholed". When this occurs, the actor plays a certain type of role, and they play it well enough that they don't get offered any other kinds of roles. This happens most often with comedic actors who want to get a shot at dramatic parts. A good example of this is Jim Carrey. He made millions playing a buffoon in comedies, but he really longed to do something serious. However, there are also actors who apparently know a good thing when they got it and revel in playing the same kinds of characters over and over. After essaying character roles for years, Melissa McCarthy broke out in 2011's incredibly overrated Bridesmaids. Since that times, she has appeared in movie after movie playing the same sort of woman. She continues this trend with The Boss.

Michelle Darnell (McCarthy) is a business self-help guru who plays to packed stadiums where she passes along her career advice. A self-made success, Michelle is both conceited and bossy. Her personal assistant, Claire (Kristen Bell), is constantly at Michelle's beck-and-call, leaving her no time for a personal life, even with her young daughter, Rachel (Ella Anderson). When Michelle's chief rival, Renault (Peter Dinklage), threatens her business, Michelle reveals that she has inside information on a big deal. Renault reports her to the SEC and soon Michelle is sentenced to 18 months in prison. When she gets out, Michelle finds herself with no money and no place to live. She goes to Claire, who reluctantly lets her in. Michelle, being the egomaniac that she is, immediately inserts herself into Claire and Rachel's lives, even accompanying them to Rachel's Dandelions meetings. When Michelle learns how much the Dandelions organization makes off of cookie sales, with so little going to the girls, Michelle decides to start her own version of the Dandelions, which she calls "Darnell's Darlings", which will sell brownies and actually give the money to the girls. While this idea seems altruistic, Michelle can't fight her natural urges and begins to lord over everything.

McCarthy is married to fellow actor Ben Falcone, and the two have worked together many times in the past. Falcone has recently made the jump to directing, with his debut being the 2014 McCarthy vehicle Tammy. I was able to make it through only about 30 minutes of that trainwreck, so I didn't have high hopes for The Boss. I can say that his second effort is undoubtedly better, but it is still rife with problems. McCarthy has become an A-list star due to her success in the films directed by Paul Feig, and it appears that she and Falcone have built up a great deal of clout. McCarthy and Falcone, brandishing their PGA credentials, are credited as Producers, as well as Executive Producers, on the film. This apparently gave them the power to do whatever they wanted to with this movie. And the result is a film that never lives up to its potential.

The Boss starts off on a promising track, but it eventually spreads itself way too thin. I hate to say this, but this is a film which actually would have benefited from taking a more narrow and commercial approach. The idea of someone creating an alternate version of the Girl Scouts is an interesting one and the movie really sticks it to the organization by pointing out how little of the money from the annual cookie sale actually goes to the girls. The film could have stuck with the whole "Darnell's Darlings" idea and simply delivered various ways in which this group does crazy things to insult people. But, this is a Melissa McCarthy vehicle and therefore, the movie must focus on Michelle. The third act completely abandons the Girl Scout angle and becomes a vehicle for Michelle to fulfill her goals. The finale goes on and on, and we get the feeling that no one was telling Falcone to wrap it up. (The amount of extra footage contained in the bonus features shows that this film could have been even longer.)

The problem with most every movie that has featured McCarthy in the starring role is that it begins by straddling the line between clever and stupid, and it eventually flops onto the side of stupid. McCarthy has shown that she can do smart comedy, but it never fails that her character devolves into someone who falls down a lot and screams profanity. This approach has made her a star and given her the power to drive her own projects, but it's also grown tired. The Boss has some funny moments and I love the central concept, but the ending falls completely flat and leaves the audience wanting much more.

The Boss never explains why Michelle wears super turtlenecks on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably the reds, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is very good and the depth is impressing, as the actors are clearly separate from the backgrounds. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The second scene, which shows one of Michelle's presentations, provides some impressive surround sound and subwoofer effects. We also get good effects during the brawl scene. The stereo effects show good separation, and highlight some sounds coming from off-screen.

The Boss Blu-ray Disc contains a variety of extras. We get Ten DELETED SCENES which run about 14 minutes. Most of these are actually brand-new scenes and many of them show how the script apparently worked to tie themes together and bring back characters. There is also an ALTERNATE ENDING which runs about 2 minutes and makes us wonder if The Rock wasn't available. This is followed by seven EXTENDED/ALTERNATE SCENES which run about 16 minutes and contains a lot of new footage. The 4-minute GAG REEL offers plenty of bloopers. "Michelle Darnell - Original Sketch" (7 minutes) shows McCarthy performing in front of a crowd, but we aren't told when or where this is happening, but it's clearly several years ago. "Origin Story" (7 minutes) takes us into The Groundlings theater to see where McCarthy got her start and shows us when and where that previous video came from. Joined by Falcone, the pair talk about where the Michelle Darnell character was born. "Peter Dinklage Gets to the Point" (9 minutes) contains comments from the actor and allows the other actors to talk about their experiences with him. Things get a little bit awkward in "Everybody Loves Kristen Bell" (7 minutes).

Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long