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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Like a Boss is a raunchy comedy about two best friends (Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne) whose friendship and cosmetics business is rocked when a wealthy investor (Salma Hayek) comes on board. The movie centers on a close-knit central duo who appreciate each other and their other (mostly female) friends. They show integrity, communication, and teamwork in their fight to keep both their relationship and their business on the rails. But there's no shortage of mature comedy: Characters share joints (including in a room where a baby is sleeping), joke about casual sex, and participate in dangerous stunts -- like one scene in which two women jump off a roof and into a pool and another in which a character dangles from a high building. A lingerie-clad woman climbs on top of her shirtless boyfriend to give him his "birthday present," a woman implies that she ignores her boyfriend's talking in order to fantasize about him sexually, and a woman rudely dismisses a man from her house after a night of casual sex. Frequent strong language includes "f--k," "f--king," "motherf----r," "s--t," "hell," "ass," and more, and women call each other "bitch" on many occasions (perhaps a result of the movie being almost entirely made by men, whose take on female friendship isn't always accurate). The cast is diverse racially, ethnically, and in terms of body type.
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What's the story?
Childhood best friends Mia (Tiffany Haddish) and Mel (Rose Byrne) took on the beauty business LIKE A BOSS when they launched their own cosmetics line and opened a signature store. But, years later, all their grand plans have resulted in huge debts, forcing them to consider an offer from beauty tycoon Claire Luna (Selma Hayek), who offers to invest in their business if she can also call the shots. The new regime causes tension between free-spirited Mia and sensible Mel, and now they're in danger of losing their business -- and their friendship -- altogether.
Is it any good?
Haddish and Byrne know their way around a joke and have crackling comic chemistry, which elevates this movie's throwaway plot and turns the whole enterprise into something worth watching. At times, Like a Boss seems cobbled together out of other (admittedly better) comedies about female friendship: Haddish and Byrne have an unbreakable Romy and Michele-like BFF bond that's set upon by malevolent outside forces, Girls Trip-style, which inevitably results in Bridesmaids-esque hijinks. But while Like a Boss is funny all the way through, it ultimately doesn't reach the heights of those earlier films. It lacks a certain something (sweetness? authenticity?), which can perhaps be blamed on the fact that Like a Boss has an almost all-male writing and directing team, and those three movies were all written, at least in part, by women.
That aside, Haddish, of course, gets all the best lines, and is great at delivering them. It feels like Mia is a riff on Haddish herself: profane, unapologetically sexual, and an enthusiastic pot user. When her much younger boyfriend (who's making Mia breakfast shirtless) says something dumb, Mia assures Mel, "I don't listen, I just watch his velvety lips move and picture them in my nooks and crannies." Jennifer Coolidge, always reliable, gets some great moments, too, but besides Haddish, the real Like a Boss MVP is Billy Porter, who turns an uncomfortable scene in which Mia and Mel fire their longtime employee into a tour de force, holding their gaze furiously as he slowly stalks out of a restaurant, hissing "Witness my tragic moment." All these great performances are set loose in kind of a goofy movie, but audiences will laugh and enjoy themselves, even if the story melts away a few moments after the credits roll.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Like a Boss compares to similar films featuring male characters. Is this kind of humor any less funny when women are the instigators? Do you think it appeals to the same audience?
How does the movie portray female friendships? Does it seem realistic? Which moments of Mia and Mel's friendship ring true, and which don't? How does the fact that the movie was made largely by men affect the way the female characters and their relationships are portrayed?
- In theaters: January 10, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: April 14, 2020
- Cast: Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne, Selma Blair
- Director: Miguel Arteta
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Character strengths: Communication, Integrity, Teamwork
- Run time: 83 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, crude sexual material, and drug use
- Last updated: April 16, 2020
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