On paper, this female friendship comedy has a lot going for it. Tiffany Haddish, so hilarious in the outrageous Girls Trip, and Rose Byrne, who’s shown off her comedy chops in Bridesmaids and Spy, play besties and business partners whose cosmetics start-up is threatened by a cutthroat competitor. She’s played by Salma Hayek, who reunites here with Miguel Arteta, director of her excellent 2017 black comedy film Beatriz at Dinner. Sadly, Like a Boss squanders its considerable assets by giving them half-baked characters and too many lame jokes that don’t land.
Haddish’s Mia and Byrne’s Mel are supposed to be BFFs who’ve grown up almost as sisters, but their friendship is never convincing: it’s hard to believe that Haddish’s brash and brazen Mia has known Byrne’s quiet and cautious Mel for 20 minutes, let alone 20 years. They feel like ‘types’ rather than real people, and the employees at their improbably expensive-looking cosmetics store are also one-dimensional. The normally reliable Jennifer Coolidge is stuck playing a fuzzy reproduction of her ditsy Legally Blonde character, while the great Billy Porter from groundbreaking US drama Pose is wasted as a sharper sales assistant who wears some natty hats but gets no decent lines.
Mia and Mel’s business is drowning in debt, but salvation seems to arrive in the glamorous form of Claire Luna (Hayek), super-rich founder of a massive cosmetics brand. Claire is actually plotting to come between the two friends so she can steal their ideas, but Hayek’s baddie is oddly bloodless. The script – written by two male screenwriters, hardly encouraging for a post-Time’s Up film about women – actually offers a promising setup here: Claire is a self-made millionaire who’s prepared to espouse female empowerment for profit while screwing over actual women behind their backs. Sadly, Like a Boss never develops her interesting double-standard into a satirical point about reductive #girlboss culture. This flimsy execution is typical of a film that ends with a seemingly random cameo from a very famous sitcom actress and a gratuitous song-and-dance number presumably inspired by the Wilson Phillips moment in Bridesmaids. Even its funniest scene, which involves a joint and a newborn baby, feels jarring because it belongs in a much riskier movie.
Like a Boss deserves some credit, at least, for resisting the urge to shoehorn in romantic subplots involving men: for better or worse, this film places its female characters front and centre at all times. But unless you’re on a plane or heinously hungover, it’s not advisable to invest your time in this creatively bankrupt non-comedy.
- Director: Miguel Arteta
- Starring: Billy Porter, Salma Hayek, Rose Byrne
- Release date: February 21