Pardon the word play in our title but we’ve got to do better by the ladies…
While I can’t deny that Like A Boss does have some genuine laugh out loud moments, it’s such a poorly assembled and sloppy affair that everyone in this picture just deserves a bit of a pass.
Best friends Mia and Mel (Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne) are living their best lives running their own cosmetics company 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 (Salma Hayek) proves too tempting to pass up, putting Mel and Mia’s lifelong friendship in jeopardy. The beauty business is about to get ugly.
It’s got some nice ideas about sisterhood and the value of friendship, but Like A Boss is a poorly paced mess of a film that has far too many quiet moments opposite the occasional laugh it genuinely earns.
On Like A Boss the bulk of the problems really do come down to the script. Screenwriters Adam Cole-Kelly and Sam Pittman come from a short TV background with this being their feature debut, and short is an understatement because one of their main writing credits in the past is on the game show Ca$h Cab…seriously.
The plot is thin and while there are some genuine laughs in the material alongside some genuine heartfelt messaging, it’s poorly structured with a rushed 3rd act which feels like somewhere in the middle of production they actually forgot to write something and had to cobble something together at the last minute. We spend a little too much time on story points that don’t matter and not enough on some that actually do as the film occasionally takes some big logic jumps as we go along the narrative.
In the hands of director Miguel Arteta, the film certainly has enough flow but while he has also had the chance to tackle some interesting projects like The Good Girl or Beatriz At Dinner he does occasionally take on jobs to pay the mortgage and feed the family; Like A Boss unquestionably falls into the latter category. There’s nothing wrong with it, he’s just following beats in the story and executing them the best he can.
Ultimately, while the script let us down, the comedic timing and chemistry of the entire ensemble is really what makes this all at least mildly pleasant is the obviously (yet occasionally corny) chemistry the ensemble has with one another.
Tiffany Haddish is obviously a comedic dynamo that can easily carry the frame. Yes the material is weak but she can’t help but infuse it all with some genuine energy. Granted it doesn’t always work, but she gets points for trying. Rose Byrne opposite her never gets enough credit for her comedic chops and she certainly holds her own as the “straight-laced” one in this comedy duo. Otherwise the fabulous Billy Porter is mostly wasted (but does make us want to see him and Haddish work together more) while Salma Hayek is chewing the scenery as our villain with her boobs pushed up as high as the false teeth in her mouth while other solid comic actors like Jennifer Coolidge, Karan Soni and Ari Graynor are barely used at all.
At the end of the day, the really sad result of Like A Boss is that as basic and underdeveloped as it was, it actually had the potential to be better. It just couldn’t get there.