Like a Boss

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Tiffany Haddish, Salma Hayek and Rose Byrne in Like a Boss.
Tiffany Haddish, Salma Hayek and Rose Byrne in Like a Boss.
Photo: M-Net


2/5 Stars


Best friends Mia and Mel are living their best lives running their own cosmetics company that they’ve built from the ground up. Unfortunately, they’re in over their heads financially, and the prospect of a big buyout offer from a notorious titan of the cosmetics industry, Claire Luna, proves too tempting to pass up. This puts Mel and Mia’s lifelong friendship in jeopardy.


Tiffany Haddish is cool. Rose Byrne is cool. Salma Hayek is cool. A movie about best friends with a makeup business facing off an evil corporate overlord sounds cool. But somehow the ‘girl power’ theme of Like a Boss feels contrived, cookie-cut from a generic teen magazine except with more swearing. You’ll laugh at the jokes, but it will be half-hearted, something in the back of your mind telling you it’s not that funny.

But once you know that this woman-focused movie about the magic of friendship was written and directed by men, it suddenly dawns on you why there’s something off about it. The story comes from a woman, but as a woman audience member, you can sense the moulding of these characters was crafted by someone who’s never identified as femme. Of course, their business had to be makeup, two women living together without partners or children constantly mocked by their friends and who break apart at the intrusion of another woman’s manipulations. If you read it like that, it’s kind of nauseating.

The premise is that Mia and Mel have been friends since they were little and have a fledgeling makeup business that’s going under. They get an offer they can’t refuse from business mogul Claire Luna, but it puts a strain on their friendship.

The one shining star in this off-kilter comedy is the cast - in their own right they are all hilarious and together in any other film would be pure gold. Billy Porter shines the brightest in his supporting role (the lunch scene alone could have been its own movie), and Jennifer Coolidge plays her usual ditzy role to perfection, albeit a little stale.

And while it’s nice to watch a film about women friends where serious romantic interests are absent, it still plays itself with an insincerity that puts you off if you think about it too hard. You’ll laugh where you have to laugh, but it’s automatic and forced. The swearing is just a thin veil hiding the ‘magic of friendship’-style tween book; it feels it was ripped off from - lots of great messages with no real heart.

I’m not saying men can’t direct or write women-centric movies (Paul Feig for one is fantastic at it) but Like a Boss is one where a woman’s touch - either in the writing or directing department - would have turned its skin-deep women’s kumbaya moment into something with actual substance.



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