Tiffany Haddish & Rose Bryne find the funny in off-color makeup romp
Like a Boss
Starring Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne & Salma Hayek
Directed by Miguel Artela
In theaters Jan. 10, 2020
Two lifelong-bestie business partners find their friendship as well as their enterprise tested in the ribald and rollicking chick-flick comedy Like a Boss.
Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne star as Mia and Mel, two friends since kindergarten who’ve grown up to take their love of makeup from a hobby to a business. But now their storefront cosmetics shop is in major financial trouble, almost half a million dollars in the hole. Good thing a local beauty mogul, Claire Luna (Salma Hayek), wants to come to their rescue, pay off their debt and buy controlling interest in their company, right?
Hold on to your eyeliner—not so fast.
Not so fast, because this movie has to get where it’s going—and it has to touch all the bases, including stopovers for scenes of sisterhood solidarity; a steady, raunchy river of R-rated zingers; a cast of buffoonish supporting characters; and comedic interludes about an infant child inhaling smoke from a doobie, men being repeatedly stuck in their privates and a product inspired by copulating dogs.
That’s not to say it’s not sometimes very funny. Haddish is a live wire who’s quickly proving there’s almost nothing she can’t do—TV spots for Groupon, yukkin’ it up with youngsters hosting ABC’s Kids Say the Darndest Things, spewing raw hilarity on her Netflix comedy specials, and commanding just about whatever role she gets whenever she steps in front of a movie camera.
And Byrne, the Aussie actress from Bridesmaids, Spy and Neighbors, is more refined, but just as valuable in finding the funny. Often seen in second-banana roles, it’s great to watch her here, playing a character who gets to expand beyond the sidelines.
Director Miguel Artela is no slouch. His filmmaking resume dates back to the 1990s, and includes The Good Girl with Jennifer Aniston and Jake Gyllenhaal, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day and Cedar Rapids, an underrated 2011 gem starring Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, Anne Heche and Sigourney Weaver. Like a Boss has a certain sass, spark and spunky, feisty, grrrl-power vibe, but never quite rises out of a predictable, formulaic comedy zone and feels like it might have been written with the broad strokes of a mascara brush and highlighted in lipstick.
It’s definitely meant for a girls’-night-out kind of audience; the testosterone content can be measured by the teaspoon. Broadway performer/singer/actor Billy Porter (from TV’s Pose and American Horror Story) hams it up as Mel and Mia’s gay assistant; Jimmy O. Yang (from Silicon Valley) and Ryan Hansen (he was Dick Casablancas on Veronica Mars, and Andy on 2 Broke Girls) play a duo of snarky cosmetics developers also hoping for Claire Luna’s sponsorship.
Hayek, the Mexican-American actress who became known in Hollywood in such movies as From Dusk Till Dawn, Desperado and Frida (for which she was nominated for an Oscar), plays Luna as a walking, talking cartoon, a florescent gust of orange hair, gravity-defying breasts and blindingly white teeth.
Brandishing a golden golf club as a further power affectation, she tells Mia and Mel that they need to be “fiercst,” adding a “t” sound to the word in a nonsensical mangling that becomes a running joke.
Will Haddish’s Mia, who wants to earn some big bucks and live large, get the big payoff? Will Byrne’s Mel, who has for years so carefully watched the company’s bottom line, figure out a way to still come out on top? Will that bunch of hot peppers Mia accidentally eats become a barf bit—and then a diarrhea gag? Is there a surprise appearance by an instantly recognizable actress from an iconic ’90s sitcom? Will a rockin’ version of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” bring it all home?
No spoilers from me.
Like a Boss isn’t great, and sometimes isn’t even very good, but like a lot of movies in January, it suffers by comparison—to all the big, Oscar-bait films that just got unloaded into theaters in November and December. It’s like when Mel and Mia tell Claire that she doesn’t have to “worry her pretty little head” about them, and Claire replies, “Oh, my head isn’t little—it’s just that my breasts are humongous.” It’s all in the comparison, and the proximity. This little cosmetics comedy caper is no Little Women, no Bombshell, and it certainly won’t end up on anyone’s awards list for this year.
But if you and your girlfriends want some straight-up, grownup laughs with a couple of “badass babes” who get “fiercst” with a makeup-mogul takeover queen, Like a Boss can add some (off) color to your winter blues.