Review by Sean Boelman
Like a Boss, directed by Miguel Arteta (Beatriz at Dinner), is a new raunchy comedy banking on its high-profile stars and lack of competition in the typically weak January marketplace. However, despite the comedically gifted performers in front of the camera, the script is so uninspired that the film becomes painfully unenjoyable.
The movie follows two best friends who own a cosmetic company as they are purchased by one of the biggest brands in the industry, causing a rift to form in their relationship. Unfortunately, as is the case with so many studio comedies, the entire plot of the film was revealed by the trailers (along with many of the jokes), causing the movie to be thoroughly and exhaustingly predictable.
Perhaps the most shocking thing about the film is that its runtime is ridiculously short. Before credits, the movie is less than an hour and twenty minutes long, and because of this, the film feels completely rushed. The main emotional arc of the movie doesn’t kick in until the second half, and by that point, there isn’t enough time left in the film for this to feel any less than forced and unnatural.
In terms of character development, the movie is extremely lackluster. Although there are certainly some moments in which it is easy to sympathize with their journeys, their change over the course of the film is minimal and ultimately inconsequential. The movie obviously has something to say about the importance of friendship, but the fact that the characters aren’t particularly compelling causes this message to feel overly sentimental for no apparent reason.
That said, the film’s short length is also an advantage, because that means that viewers need not suffer for longer than necessary in this unfunny mess of a movie. The jokes come fast in the first half, but they aim mostly for the lowest of lowbrow humor. On the other hand, the second and third acts have jokes that are more spread out as the film panics to complete the obligatory narrative arc.
Visually, the movie falls into the same category as many studio comedies that come out today: a camera is pointed at the actors, and the bare minimum is done in order to capture the jokes. However, with the script being so lackluster, some stylistic flair could have gone a long way in making the film more appealing. Instead, audiences are given familiar and bland visuals and needle drops that are on-the-nose to the point of being cringe-worthy.
The thing about this movie that is so disappointing is that the cast assembled for the film is legitimately talented. The two leads, Rose Byrne and Tiffany Haddish, have believable chemistry together. Salma Hayek is an entertaining (albeit over-the-top) antagonist. The supporting players, including Billy Porter, Karan Soni, and Jennifer Coolidge, are all charming. Yet with the weak script, they are given nothing to do in the movie that is worth their efforts.
With so many talented comedians in the cast, Like a Boss should’ve been a hit, or at the very least entertaining. However, because the script is so aggravatingly mindless, this manages to be a frustrating and joyless time at the theater.
Like a Boss opens in theaters on January 10.