The Boss

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Boss Movie Poster Image
McCarthy's hard-edged comedy squanders its potential.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 89 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 14 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Amid the over-the-top behavior is the notion that sometimes those who seem the most remote and uninterested in forging real friendships are the ones who need it most and who yearn for it but just don't know how to find it. Also, money doesn't buy happiness -- or loyalty.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Michelle starts out quite cutthroat and selfish but eventually finds her way, albeit awkwardly and while making big mistakes. Claire, her assistant, is a pushover sometimes but does learn to stand up for herself while remaining empathetic. 

Violence

In one sequence moms and their pre-teen/teen daughters get involved in an all-out rumble on the streets of Chicago, ripping one another's hair off, shoving and tossing each other onto parked cars, kicking, slapping, punching each other, etc. In another scene, a man slashes a woman's hand in the middle of a sword fight that looks like it can only end if one of them dies. A few screaming matches.

Sex

Frequent innuendo/references to sexual conquests (where and how); adults are shown in fully clothed poses that are reminiscent of sexual positions. Some frank talk about a woman's (non-existent) sex life. Kissing.

Language

Everything from "f--k" and "s--t" to "ass," all sometimes said by kids. A few characters, including teens, give each other the finger. 

Consumerism

Characters who are presumably rich are shown with big-ticket items like Louis Vuitton luggage and a Rolls Royce.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One scene shows a man snorting cocaine and a woman rubbing it on her teeth. Social drinking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Boss is a sometimes hard-edged comedy about a financial guru (Melissa McCarthy) with a hard-scrabble past who's thrown into jail and has a tough time working her way back to success after she gets out. Michelle Darnell is a pretty bawdy character: She swears at and in front of kids, freely dispenses sexual advice, and can't stay away from her sometimes-violent nemesis. She also has a take-no-prisoners attitude toward business. As such, much of the movie's material -- including frequent sexual innuendo/references, lots of swearing (including "f--k"), cocaine use, and an all-out rumble in which moms and kids rip one another's hair off, shove and toss each other around, and generally beat each other up -- is better suited for older teens and adults. That said, somewhere underneath all the mayhem are messages about redemption, friendship, and money not buying happiness.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKeith Rodriguez July 27, 2016

It really depends

If your kids were raised in a bubble and don't know much about cursing or alcohol, then I'd say about 12+. But if your kids are reasonabley mature (e.... Continue reading
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byMissMagnolia April 8, 2016

Not for kids!! Watch out!

My husband and I took our nine-year-old son to see this movie because it looked funny in the previews, and there were lots of shots of kids and physical comedy.... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBe awesome star April 24, 2016

Really good

I think that there was a lot of swareing and that was the only thing I think was bad in the movie
Teen, 17 years old Written byOddball20 December 20, 2019

GREAT comedy movie

This movie was pretty good. A woman that was really rich was arrested for white collar crime. Once she got out she was broke and didn't have a home. Later... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE BOSS, Melissa McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, a financial guru (and bestselling author and TV personality) who admits to insider trading and is thrown in jail for a few months. When her stint is up, Michelle discovers that she has very little left to her name besides the support of her former assistant, Claire (Kristen Bell), who offers Michelle a couch to crash on until she gets back on her feet and, later, a business idea that might just propel Michelle back to the top. But close friendships aren't Michelle's forte, and it doesn't help that she can't seem to shake her ex-boyfriend Renault (Peter Dinklage), a powerful business tycoon who's hungry for revenge.

Is it any good?

If it's possible to be disappointed in and delighted by a movie simultaneously, then The Boss delivers. It taps into McCarthy's patented sass but ultimately fails to deliver because a) it dilutes her comic powers with superficial storytelling and odd pacing and b) it peppers bracingly refreshing moments with tired, old jokes. First, the good: McCarthy is simply fun to watch, and she almost makes you forget that the plot's so thin because she's so effortless in her comedy. (She even manages to wrangle a genuine laugh from a silly sofa bed bit that, when later repeated, reveals how meh the joke actually is.) And she shares an easy chemistry with Bell, who also delivers on a half-baked role.

But here's the bad: The characters are underdeveloped and underwritten; a prison subplot that sounds promising goes nowhere (and is strangely unexplored, comedy-wise); and there are so many holes in the remaining storyline that you have to wonder what happened in the process of filming. Watch The Boss for McCarthy, who's boss. The rest, you can live without.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Boss' mature content. How does it depict drug use? Violence? Sex? Does it change the impact that all of these things are played for humor?

  • What message is the movie sending about success (both financial and personal)? Can the first only come at the expense of the second?

  • Talk about how movies like this one deploy hard-edged, even offensive humor. Who is this style of comedy designed to appeal to? How does having kids involved in the story affect the impact of the humor?

Movie details

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