Review: McCarthy gets laughs but can’t carry ‘The Boss’

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Melissa McCarthy needs to leave her husband.

Professionally speaking, not personally. Perhaps McCarthy and Ben Falcone have a lovely, loving marriage worth preserving. But when they team up on screen, their union is a failure.

“The Boss” is the second clunker in a row they’ve churned out together, following 2014’s “Tammy.” Like that film, Falcone directs from a screenplay they both wrote, and it similarly wastes the considerable talents of McCarthy on a half-baked premise that seems to be based on a title and an idea for a poster, not a story.

McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, a flashy, loudmouth self-help guru who loses her fortune when her rival and ex-lover Renault (Peter Dinklage) busts her for insider training. After serving a brief prison sentence, she moves in with her put-upon personal assistant Claire (Kristen Bell) and tries to get back on her feet while learning the value of family and friendship.

The lone highlights are all McCarthy; scenes where she verbally abuses Claire while wearing a teeth whitening mouth gag, or goes into temporary paralysis while eating a puffer fish, prove she’s one of the screen’s funniest stars. But it’s not enough to carry the film, and “The Boss” never feels like more than a series of bawdy, R-rated sketches held together by bubble gum and masking tape.

Since her “Bridesmaids” breakout, McCarthy’s career has been up (when teaming with “Spy” and “The Heat” director Paul Feig) and down (every other instance).

Feig knows she’s elevated when there is a solid structure around her. Without him, “The Boss” is lost.

agraham@detroitnews.com

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‘The Boss’

GRADE: C-

Rated R for sexual content, language and brief drug use

Running time: 99 minutes