Midway through Like A Boss, one lead character turns to another and declares: “You saved my life when you took me in. Now let me pay you back.” In the same spirit, allow me to save the hour and 24 minutes of your life you’d lose watching this crude Bridesmaids-does-business hot mess in full. Watch the trailer instead – you’ll get all the best bits, and about as much depth.
Because yes, on paper Like A Boss has all the elements in place for a smart, progressive riff on the girl-buddy genre: strong female leads, an interracial starring duo and a plot focused on women in business. But seconds into this vapid, troubling film, alarm bells start to clang as loudly as the script that follows.
Is it the dick joke sub-60 seconds in, and every 60 seconds after that? The hot pink Lady Film title graphics? The apparent absence of any kind of plot beyond adult women being bad with cash, too horny to function and so infantilised they have to dispense one another’s toothpaste? From the get go, Like A Boss reveals it’s true colours – and gurrrl, they ain’t flattering.
To the story, if that’s what we can call this wafer-thin excuse for hurtling between set pieces filed under ‘Like Bridesmaids, But Different Enough So We Don’t Get Sued’. Mia (Tiffany Haddish, climbing the walls) and Mel (Rose Byrne, chewing the scenery) are lifelong best friends, pathologically codependent housemates and inexplicable business partners with a tanking makeup brand on life support. We know the pair are lovable losers because they drive a crap car, get high at baby showers and are forever being told to cut the kookiness by employees Billy Porter – wasted as a perpetual arched eyebrow – and Jennifer Coolidge, playing honest to god so exactly the same character as in Legally Blonde that she must have been hibernating in the Paramount salon set ever since, nestled in a pile of sponge rollers waiting for someone to switch the lights back on.
Somehow, Mel has managed to keep $493,000 of corporate debt secret from Mia. Perhaps it could have been discussed sooner if the duo were capable of communicating in anything other than sex gags and inspirational memes; we’ll never know. (“You can type this shit,” as Harrison Ford once famously sighed on the set of Star Wars, “but you can’t say it.”) Into the mire swoops multimillionaire and maleficent bosom Clare Luna – Selma Hayek, a stilettoed Wotzit – with an offer to save their business. Of course, she’s got a very cunning plan to cleave the gal-pals apart and pinch their creepy bestseller. (A ‘One Night Stand’ make-up kit? Really?) Those naughty power women!
Mel and Mia’s bond duly creaks at the seams – unsurprising, as they have literally nothing in common and all the chemistry of a slashed tyre – only to be rediscovered in the nick of time for the flattest, most hurried ‘showdown’ in chick-flick history. I’m still not really sure what happens, or why, and I definitely didn’t care enough by that point to remember. But don’t worry: it all ends in karaoke, and someone throws up on someone else along the way. Hey, that sounds a lot like the end of Bridesma– no no, nothing to see here Your Honour.
So far, so regrettable. But something about Like A Boss sticks in the craw, making it’s lousy plot, lazy characters and piss-poor, tawdry script particularly hard to swallow: it’s written by, produced and directed by men. That’s right: a film that poses as a comedy about strong, independent women, but which in fact reduces and defines it’s female characters by their sex drives, financial nous (or lack thereof) and vaginal experiences during childbirth – the sole apparent purpose for Mel and Mia’s nameless friends popping up now and again – has been brought to us by dudes. Who think we’ll enjoy it.
At best, that makes this unthinking MAN’s Bridesmaids a poorly-judged blip on Paramount’s balance sheet – and at worst, an ominous Trojan horse in the post-#MeToo era. “You’re only super tight for a limited amount of time,” Jennifer Coolidge cautions a teenager during an early scene about prom sex, “so you don’t wanna waste it.” Hear the male writers behind those words – hell, anyone who didn’t circle them with a giant red “WTF?!” from the very first draft – and Like A Boss starts to feel very unfunny indeed.
Like A Boss is released nationwide on 21 February.
Photo: © 2019 Eli Joshua Ade; Paramount Pictures Corporation. All rights reserved.
Like A Boss has all the elements in place for a smart, progressive riff on the girl-buddy genre ... until it starts.