Dir. Ben Falcone
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Gillian Jacobs, Debby Ryan, Adria Arjona, Julie Bowen, Maya Rudolph, Matt Walsh, Jessie Ennis, and Molly Gordon
Melissa McCarthy’s filmography can be split into two parts. To put it simply there’s the good, where she really shines, and then there’s the bad, where she becomes increasingly annoying. Two of the worst culprits that fall into the bad category are Tammy and The Boss. Which isn’t great news as Ben Falcone who directs here, also directed those. McCarthy and Falcone are also married, and they populate this film with their friends and members of their old improv group, which makes you wonder if they see these films as a working holiday. What they’ve produced here is non-sensical at best, and at its worst is one of the most terrible comedies of the year.
McCarthy plays Deanna, a married, middle aged mum, whose life is turned upside down when her husband announces he wants a divorce as they drop their daughter off for her last year at college. In an effort to come to turns with this loss, and her new found freedom, Deanna decides to go back to college with her daughter, and finish her degree. She ends up attending sorority parties, sleeping with other students, and facing her fear of public speaking. All whilst… I can’t go on with this. The film is ludicrous, there’s no point in trying to get to the bottom of what it’s about.
The film just doesn’t work. It’s not funny, it’s not charming, and it doesn’t have a strong central message. It’s all over the show. To call it a complete mess is an understatement. There are points in the film which are so bizarre you start to question if you’re actually in the theatre, or if you’re asleep, having a fever dream. The actors themselves don’t seem to know what movie they are in, and the performances are pitched at different tones. Maya Rudolph is particularly grating, in an over the top performance that would only feel at home in an SNL sketch.
The big problem here is in the directing and editing. It feels like they had a rough outline for the film, and then just let the actors riff off the situations. This can work. Films like Anchorman thrived because of this style, but that film had a surrealist setting which suited it. Here the surrealism feels off. McCarthy plays Deanna sympathetically, and for her, she is pretty grounded. She’s mourning the break up of her marriage, and these two tones clash awkwardly. There are some good jokes, but each scene felt like it went on too long, with jokes being over-explained. It’s like a film that’s comprised of five minute sketches, none of which fully gel together. Falcone also tones down the physical comedy that McCarthy does so well, but the few brief moments of slapstick garnered the biggest laughs.
It’s not a good film. It’s an increasingly odd film, but it’s not a horrible film. There are some nice messages of finding independence, girls sticking together, and not letting she get in your way. It’s just poorly made and not very funny. A tighter focus, and a tighter edit could have really improved it.