Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Like a Boss ★★☆☆☆

Like a Boss is embarrassing at times. Essentially, it boils down to, “wow, they’re so different” ad infinitum, with shouted insults and half-baked jokes to pass the short runtime. They’re friends, then they’re not friends, then they decide that they’re friends again. Simple enough.

Of course, you can strip down most movies to a base concept to make them appear worse than they actually are, but Like a Boss was never trying to win critical acclaim in the first place. It’s just trying to be funny, and it works on that premise alone if you set a low bar for entry.

Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne are the latest duo to star in the tried and tested buddy comedy format, as best friends Mia and Mel. They start the film in debt to the tune of $493,000 dollars after running their beauty company into the ground, and they’re running out of time to get out of the financial black hole. They receive a massive offer from eccentric business owner Claire (Salma Hayek) who wants to ring the changes, and their differing ideals cause most of the conflict throughout the film.

Deep down, Mia is a bit of a bully, while Mel is a wet blanket. The former does everything for the latter, from applying toothpaste in the morning to taking repeated emotional beatings as they argue. In return, Mia acts as her spine and faces the repercussions of their actions alone for the most part. It’s not a hilarious foundation to base a comedy on, but it works as they bounce off one another while fighting to keep their company afloat. 

A duo of unrealistic characters with clear codependency, at least they have more layers than the majority of the other actors featured. Claire constantly tries to undermine their friendship, acting as the main antagonist while hamming it up like Shatner. She carries a golf club constantly and throws out shite patter while conforming to every “female boss bitch” trope known to mankind.

The cast includes Jimmy O. Yang and Ryan Hansen, playing a separate duo to the brothers seen in Fantasy Island. Stifler’s mom plays a ditzy blonde who works at their salon, while Tony winner Billy Porter is decent as Barrett. Porter got a few genuine laughs from me, which is more than I can say for repeated blue waffle jokes, which set the tone for the humour found in the rest of the film. When I say jokes, it’s actually Mel shouting “this woman has blue waffle” repeatedly while a crowd cheers for an inexplicable reason. (To be fair, that actually does sound funny in hindsight.) It just sort of ends with a musical number for some reason, cutting to a year later to wrap things up swiftly.

Like a Boss is trying to make the audience laugh, and while it doesn’t utilise the full range of the talent at its disposal, it’s not completely devoid of soul. It does fail to hit the mark more often than not, but at least it tries.

James Millin-Ashmore

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