Movie Review: “Like a Boss”

tvWith Rose Byrne, Tiffany Haddish, and Salma Hayek leading the cast, there is certainly the necessary on screen talent for the new comedy, “Like a Boss,” to be one truly hysterical ride. That sense is only enhanced with addition of the supporting cast, which includes Jennifer Coolidge, Billy Porter, Karan Soni, Ryan Hansen, and Jimmy O. Yang. That said, while the movie isn’t without laughs, this Miguel Arteta directed affair is more forgettable than it is funny.

The screenplay, which is from Sam Pitman & Adam Cole-Kelly, features Byrne and Haddish as Mel and Mia, respectively, two best friends for life who run a successful make-up business. Well, not a successful business really, and with things going badly, it is a godsend when makeup mogul Claire Luna (Hayek) steps in and offers a partnership.

None of this really makes good sense. Mia and Mel have a successful company, except that they don’t, and then get bossed around by Luna after she acquires a 49% stake in their company. Why she gets to boss them around when she owns less than half is unclear, but she does with the end goal of sewing the seeds of distrust between Mia and Mel so that she, Luna, can become the majority stakeholder. Mia and Mel are the talent behind the company and the movie makes it clear that it’s really just Mia, Mel is the organizational/money person and the company’s a half-million in debt, so why would Luna opt to destroy the women, especially Mia?

Forget all that. The plot makes little to no sense. It is just a vehicle for shenanigans and strife and a lot of jokes about genitalia and a few about drugs. Some of these land and some don’t, but what is consistent in the film is that all jokes are turned up to the absolute maximum. Forget going to 11 when actors try to land a joke, they all go to 12 and do it just about every time.

There is nothing subtle about the words in the first place and then they are delivered in this over-the-top, shouty fashion, one that stops just short of ending with an overt wink by the actor to the camera. The approach minimizes the talents of the cast rather than enhancing them, which is a true shame when you have so many funny people there who have proven their ability to do so much better.

While not a comedy, Hayek and Arteta collaborated previously in “Beatriz at Dinner,” a far more successful endeavor with the actress delivering a wonderful performance. Here it is, knowingly, all cartoon.

All cartoon? Hmmm…

Perhaps that means that I’ve been thinking about it wrong, so let me reassess. If the goal of “Like a Boss” is to be an R-rated live-action cartoon, does it succeed?

Jinkies… it certainly comes closer doesn’t it? No one ever seriously complains about the plot of a “Scooby Doo” episode not making a lick of sense, right? One can almost imagine Mia or Mel attempting to pull off Luna’s orange-red hair and finding that it’s attached to a mask hiding her true—and hideous—face. That would fit with the movie’s general ethos.

Okay then, that’s more satisfying. As a live-action cartoon where the characters are fully expected to stumble around from one sequence to the next, where nothing has to make sense and the bad guy (girl) has to get it in the end, “Like a Boss” is an acceptable bit of entertainment. It even runs less than 90 minutes, making sure that no one watching grows tired of the silliness before the credits run. Yes, it’s true that a bunch of the jokes don’t land and very few of the ones that do are a laugh riot, but again, the same is true of a lot of cartoons.

So, there you have it – if you’ve ever wanted a live-action cartoon about best friends going up against a corporate meanie where the jokes are R-rated and the story telegraphed, “Like a Boss” is the movie for you. Subtle it isn’t. Hysterical it isn’t. Depending on the humor you like, it may not even be inoffensive. But, zoinks, it doesn’t try to hide behind a mask.

If that sounds like it’s for you, get yourself some Scooby Snacks and enjoy.

photo credit: Paramount Pictures


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