January is traditionally a time of year full of promise, as there is hope to embark on a fresh set of 12 months full of changes and bold decision making. That is, unless you’re looking at the calendar for movie releases; in which case it’s part dreaded wasteland of mostly regrettable content occasionally featuring the rare unexpected surprise.
The female empowerment comedy Like A Boss from director Miguel Arteta is the latest example of why January is a scary time to be at the movies.
Best friends since middle school, Mia (Tiffany Haddish) and Mel (Rose Byrne) have seen their partnership lead them to become cosmetic queens of their own empire after starting as small business owners. Unfortunately, things haven’t been rosy as of late, with their company massively in debt, and sales not being what they could be.
So when beauty mogul Claire Luna (Salma Hayek) comes in and promises not only to invest in their company, but to pay off their debt, the pair jump at the opportunity after some careful discussion. As you may have guessed, though, this was a bad decision, which leads to the pair of friends fighting to take back what’s theirs... Like A Boss.
The comedy in Like A Boss is some of the laziest I’ve seen in years.
The recent news that major studios will start to greenlight projects based on the advice of an A.I. built to maximize marketability may have sounded scary, but after watching Like A Boss you wonder if it might be a good idea. That sort of approach may have recognized that audiences aren't amused by lazy comedy that aims for all of the low hanging fruit it can grab. The writing team leaves director Miguel Arteta and his cast out to dry.
If you’re a fan of simple gags involving people with accents mispronouncing words, smoking pot around babies, and a scene where two well-endowed women collide in supposedly comedic fashion, Like A Boss could have been your kind of movie. Yet somehow, the script can’t even figure out what to do with those jokes, except to just tell them with no nuance or build up.
Clocking in at only 83 minutes, Like A Boss still feels like a long movie.
Another mistake the audience might make upon entering Like A Boss is thinking that they’re safe because the film wraps itself up under the hour and a half mark. Timing like that would suggest a quick, easy sit that might not tickle the imagination, but would be manageable at best.
Guess again, folks, as Like A Boss is going to make you feel every second of its runtime. It does so without even fully drawing its lead characters in full detail, relying instead on emotional and comedic shorthand to tell the audience what they're supposed to feel. Rather than let you feel the friendship built between Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne as an organic experience, this story instead tries to force you to accept it with manufactured tragedy, which never truly gels.
It also doesn’t fail to waste the talents of the impressive supporting cast, as even usually vibrant talent like Jennifer Coolidge, Billy Porter, Natasha Rothwell, and Salma Hayek all manage to be put through an unfunny wringer, extracting every ounce of charm out of their skill sets.
Usually, when a picture like this fails to entertain, there’s a B-story that brightens things up with outrageous characters. Without that safety net, Like A Boss plummets to the ground right out of the gate, and never gets back up. You could just watch the trailer at home, imagine whatever story you think should play out in-between those moments, and I could almost guarantee you’d come up with something better than what was put onto the screen with this project.
Like A Boss is exactly the movie what you think it is, and even at that it fails miserably.
A basic outline of what Like A Boss was trying to do with its finished product would be the following: an R-rated female empowerment comedy that isn’t afraid to confront issues of gender and business with a healthy sense of humor. But this movie is afraid to confront those issues, as well as make anyone laugh in a truly R-rated fashion. This is an extremely banal comedy that doesn’t remotely live up to a mature rating, and can easily be cleaned up for television.
The female empowerment angle never really goes anywhere, except to deliver the cinematic equivalent of someone writing “Yaaaas Queen” or “You Go Girl” on the screen at random intervals. This is a movie built around hashtags, rather than plot points, and it’s just as disposable. In a post Booksmart world, Like A Boss isn’t just a missed opportunity, it’s a mismanaged attempt to crassly cash in on social trends in exchange for relevance.
If you ever wanted to know what it would look like if a Facebook sticker set gave birth to a movie, Like A Boss answers that question in horrifically accurate detail. It may look like a major motion picture, with the talented cast and manageable editing, but the breakneck pacing of the script leaves the film feeling as fulfilling as the empty part of a bag of chips.
I wouldn’t recommend it for a girl’s night out, and I would go as far as to say that I don’t suggest you send your frenemies to see it either; as that could be considered a social war crime.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.