Like a Boss, 2020, ½ star

Horrible Boss

Like a Boss early contender for year’s worst film

Tiffany Haddish (left), Rose Byrne and Salma Hayek star in Like a Boss. (image copyright Paramount Pictures)

Exclusive to MeierMovies.com, January 12, 2020

“Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.”

That adage is given new life by the actors in the female buddy comedy Like a Boss, who, sans a single laugh, need just 83 minutes to die on screen.

Directed by Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl) and written by Sam Pitman and Adam Cole-Kelly, the raunchy, R-rated Like a Boss tells the story of Mia (Tiffany Haddish) and Mel (Rose Bryne). Best pals since childhood, the two women run a small makeup and beauty business together, along with friends Sydney (Jennifer Coolidge) and Barrett (Billy Porter). But because their company is hopelessly in debt, they embrace an offer from a cosmetics mogul, Claire Luna (Salma Hayek), to bail them out and provide irresistible opportunities to improve and market their products, in exchange for 49-percent ownership in their company. But, predictably, Claire’s offer is as fake as her greasepaint, and Mia and Mel are soon forced to reevaluate not just their business decisions but their friendship.

During one of their inane conversations – which resemble bad stand-up routines more than believable dialogue – Mia tells Mel she prefers “dumb dick” to an intelligent boyfriend. “I don’t care if they can read,” she says.

Apparently neither do the creators of Like a Boss, whose disrespect for their audience’s intelligence is palpable and their disregard for smart filmmaking inexcusable. But regardless of your own personal taste, the undeniable fact is the script just doesn’t make much sense. Why would a failing small business that apparently consists of just four employees, a single store and a website attract the almost undivided attention of a multi-billion-dollar corporation? Further, how could such a modest business go into debt to the tune of almost half a million dollars while simultaneously raking in $21,000 in web sales each month? And why does Claire’s office building look more like a hotel or mall than a corporate headquarters? (Maybe because it’s really AmericasMart Atlanta.) The setup simply doesn’t pass the smell test.

The stink would be somewhat tolerable if this were pure farce or absurdism, or in the least bit funny. It’s none of the above, and the attempted pivot to heartfelt friendship film in its third act is arguably the movie’s most embarrassing failure. And how do we recognize said pivot? Why, cue the maudlin music, of course. Like a Boss even has the guts to tout an ill-conceived message about female empowerment, though the villain (Claire) is also a woman.

This is the moment in a rotten review when a critic usually finds it in his or her heart to compliment the premise, recognize the inherent talent of the cast or mention at least one well-crafted moment. But not this time. Like a Boss is the worst thing to happen to the cosmetics industry since skin rashes.

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