A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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 ...
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?
- In theaters: April 8, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: July 26, 2016
- Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage
- Director: Ben Falcone
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sexual content, language and brief drug use
- Last updated: September 24, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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