The Boss **
Dir: Ben Falcone
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage, Ella Anderson, Tyler Labine
Melissa McCarthy is a gifted comedienne, adept at physical comedy and improvisational skills, as well as the ability to hit the emotional beats when necessary. When these gifts are in service of a good – or even semi-decent script (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy) you have comedy gold on your hands. And when the script is lacking – well, then, fool’s gold may be closer to the truth. Unfortunately, with The Boss, McCarthy is way off-target.
The star doesn’t have anybody else to blame but herself – she co-wrote the movie along with her husband and director, Ben Falcone (their earlier teaming was the even more disastrous – Tammy). Not that The Boss is completely devoid of laughs or merit but the gags work only sporadically and the movie steadily goes downhill after the mid-way point trying to pull the scattered strings of the screenplay together and hoping (and failing) to generate laughs, no matter how they may come.
McCarthy and Falcone even miss a golden opportunity to deliver some pointed commentary on a moment in American cultural – and political – history that has the whole world watching aghast in disbelief, fear and amazement. In The Boss, McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell self-made, bombastic billionaire, part-huckster and total blowhard, oblivious to reality, and completely devoid of empathy for “normal” people. Remind you of anybody? The movie chronicles Darnell’s downfall and then redemption but fails to capitalise on the satirical material just waiting to be mined in the character of Darnell.
Cut to chase: For Melissa McCarthy fans only.
Captain America: Civil War ****
Dir: Anthony and Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastien Stan, Anthony Mackie, Paul Rudd, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Elizabeth Olsen, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland
This isn’t quite the best Marvel superhero film to hit the big screen (that honour is a toss-up between the first Avengers movie and Captain America: The Winter Soldier – I lean towards the latter) but it certainly is marvellous (yes, pun intended) entertainment. The Russo brothers successfully turned The Winter Soldier into a post-cold war thriller in the garb of a superhero movie and, here, they are able to give weight and meaning and context to the clash between Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) by drawing enough parallels to the real world and the fallout – including so-called “collateral damage” – of the conflicts that threaten to consume our planet.
In a nutshell, wracked by guilt, Iron Man is willing to put himself and his fellow super-powered individuals under the supervision of the United Nations. Captain America feels that would be dangerous and allow superheroes to be used for purposes less than noble. Both heroes have their supporters. There is enough grey here for us to see the merits of both arguments and we understand how and why the heroes line up on both sides of the divide. The inevitable smackdown that follows is both fun and exciting and – despite the large number of characters, including two new ones introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe – each and every character gets his or her moment to shine. That’s a tricky balancing act but the Russos pull it off more than deftly – Marvel made absolutely the right choice in putting them in-charge of the two Avengers movies that are in the pipeline.
If I have a bone to pick, it is in the weak plot machinations involving Helmut Zemo – the bad guy working behind the scenes – but I can live with that, given the amount of goodness packed into movie’s two-and-a-half hours.
Cut to chase: Terrific superhero fun and action.
[email protected]; Twitter: @KhusroMumtaz
* Not on your life ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see ***½
Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection