Like A Boss (2020)

For a film that’s so heavily focused on women, it’s a shame that Like A Boss is ultimately crafted by men.  As written by Sam Pitman and Adam Cole-Kelly (the duo having cut their teeth on the short-lived YouTube Red series Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television), and directed by Miguel Arteta (a Puerto Rican filmmaker with an eclectic catalogue that includes Jennifer Aniston’s dark dramedy The Good Girl, the off-kilter Youth In Revolt, and the family comedy Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day), Like A Boss suffers from both an uninventive plot and a disingenuous tone, as well as the mentality that the male minds in charge think they know how women operate.

I’m certainly not saying men can’t write or direct female-centric comedies, and who knows if a female-held pen brushing this film’s script would have altered it drastically in any manner, but given how much proven talent there is collectively on board here (Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne, Salma Hayek, and Jennifer Coolidge, to name just a few) you can’t help but feel deflated when the resulting product is so mediocre, so by-the-numbers, and so predictable.

Having said that, Like A Boss doesn’t appear to have been made with the intention of reinventing the wheel and, to its credit, it knows what type of audience it wants to entice.  If you’re willing to go along with its standard, sisters-are-doing-it-for-themselves vibe, and you enjoy Haddish’s staple sass, Byrne’s awkward assertiveness, and Coolidge’s dippy shtick, not to mention the (admittedly) brilliant, over-the-top, villainy of a busty, red-haired, cap-toothed Hayek, then this undemanding laugher should satisfy you enough for an all-too-quick 83 minutes.

If you’ve seen the film’s trailers you’ll know what story beats Pitman and Cole-Kelly have designed as Haddish’s brash Mia and Byrne’s confidence-lacking, but more business-savvy Mel take their promising but failing beauty brand Mia & Mel to cosmetics mogul Claire Luna (a cartoony Hayek having an absolute ball) in a bid to save their company.  Given that Mia and Mel are the best of besties (the film opens with the two of them talking on the phone, despite being literally only separated by a door) and Claire is as exaggerated as can be (“My head is not little, it’s just that my breasts are humongous” is one of her many self-aware retorts), we’re unsurprised when their relationships starts to crumble under typical sabotage efforts; Mia and Mel’s supposedly unbreakable bond is tested through Claire’s undermining ways, but it couldn’t possibly be because Claire failed at a business with her former best friend, could it? (Hint: yes it could).

As lowest-common-denominator comedy, Like A Boss does just enough as breezy entertainment that’ll satisfy its target audience throughout, before being forgotten once the credits roll.  We’ve seen Haddish and Byrne let loose in more humorous manners before, but it’s difficult to deny their amusing push-pull chemistry, even if their respective brands of comedy belong in a tighter, less stereotypically written film.

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