Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Movie Review: "Like a Boss" (2020)

Director: Miguel Arteta
Year: 2020
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 23 minutes

Mia and Mel are two lifelong best friends who founded a makeup company together. Unfortunately, they are over $400K in debt. To save their business, they take a deal from a successful cosmetics company run by Claire Luna, who does her best to destroy their friendship so she can steal their ideas and take over their company.

In "Like a Boss," Mia (Tiffany Haddish) and Mel (Rose Byrne), two business partners/best friends, hope to do business with a large cosmetics company run by Claire Luna (Salma Hayek).
In "Like a Boss," Mia (Tiffany Haddish) and Mel (Rose Byrne), two business partners/best friends, hope to do business with a large cosmetics company run by Claire Luna (Salma Hayek). (Image Source)
"Like a Boss" (2020) is supposed to be a movie about female empowerment that was made for women that also stars women and has a story written by veteran comedy writer Danielle Sanchez-Witzel. Who better to write the screenplay than Adam Cole-Kelly and Sam Pitman, two men with almost zero experience? And who better to direct than Miguel Arteta, who has never made anything that has risen above "fine"? The story revolves around two lifelong best friends named Mel (Rose Byrne) and  Mia (Tiffany Haddish), who are not only roommates but business partners and founders of a beauty company called, what else, Mel and Mia's. Mia is the front-end personality, makeup artist, and inventor of many of the company's most unique, colorful products. Mel handles most of the back-end financials and the business side of things. It turns out, they are now over $400,000 in debt. When cosmetic giant Claire Luna (Salma Hayek) offers to pay off all their debt for a 49% share of the company, Mel is quick to jump at the offer. Mia is reluctant and doesn't trust Claire, but she does trust Mel, so she agrees, and they take her proposal to save Mel and Mia's. There's just one catch. If either Mia or Mel quit the business, Claire Luna's ownership stake jumps to 51%, giving her the controlling share in their brand. Of course, Claire makes it her mission to drive a wedge between the two besties for her own self-interest.
After being fired from Mel (Rose Byrne) and Mia's (Tiffany Haddish) cosmetic company, Barrett (Billy Porter) stages a dramatic exit in the middle of a restaurant in a movie still for "Like a Boss" (2020).
After being fired from Mel (Rose Byrne) and Mia's (Tiffany Haddish) cosmetic company, Barrett (Billy Porter) stages a dramatic exit in the middle of a restaurant in a movie still for "Like a Boss" (2020). (Image Source)
We are big fans of both Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne. Both women have delivered some fantastic comedic performances in the past. Even though both of them have an occasional "miss" on their track record, we still had high hopes for "Like a Boss" (2020) given their overall talent. Those hopes were quickly dashed as the narrative of the film unfolded over time.

Byrne and Haddish don't give bad performances in this, though both of their characters' personalities can be occasionally grating. Mel is always way too eager to please, especially when Claire Luna enters the picture. Also, for someone who deals with the books of their business, she doesn't seem to understand what a business deal with Claire actually entails money wise. At one point, Mel doesn't know Claire will get $0.49 out of every dollar of profit they earn. It's business 101, and if she doesn't know that, it may have something to do with why they are hemorrhaging money. Mia is skeptical of every situation, even if she doesn't need to be. She's always at an 11, which we've come to expect from Haddish, but talking about "blue waffles" only goes so far when it doesn't really fit in the narrative. Also, old meme. The comedy in "Like a Boss" (2020) works best when it showcases Byrne and Haddish shooting the shit together since they play well off of one another and legitimately feel like long-time friends, but they aren't given a solid script to work with, and it puts a damper on the entire project. The supporting cast is hit and miss, too. The biggest laughs almost always come from Billy Porter's character Barrett, though his best scene is spoiled in the trailer. This just reaffirms what we already thought: Billy Porter needs to be in everything! Despite their best efforts, the rest of the cast and the characters they embody leave a lot to be desired. Even though we usually love everything she does, Salma Hayek's vicious beauty mogul antagonist didn't work for us, mostly because her performance felt very forced. Hayek failed to bring any laughs our way, which is a huge bummer. The satirical misogynist business rivals played by Ryan Hansen and Jimmy O. Yang also fell flat. What wound up being a stupid, basic as hell, irritating inclusion could have been a smart commentary on men in makeup in better scriptorial hands. Jennifer Coolidge has been doing the same routine for decades, and it's now tired in 2020. The way the story unfolds is too contrived and too formulaic to be engaging, and the humor just doesn't work most of the time. We see every "big moment" coming from ten miles away, and we could have overlooked this fact if we were too busy laughing to notice, but we weren't, at least not often enough to justify such poor execution.
Salma Hayek stars as Claire Luna, a cosmetics mogul with sinister intentions, in the comedy film "Like a Boss" (2020).
Salma Hayek stars as Claire Luna, a makeup mogul with sinister intentions, in the comedy film "Like a Boss" (2020). (Image Source)
"Like a Boss" (2020) is basically what would happen if three men wrote and directed a movie about how they think women would act and talk and joke if they are boss business owners. Oh, wait...it is! There are a few fleeting moments that garnered big laughs from us, but, unfortunately, those instances never came together to make a cohesive, satisfying experience. All in all, this is a generic "female empowerment" movie we wish had worked a lot better than it did.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: 4.2/10
RT Rating: 20%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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