The buddy comedy formula has been something of a staple in American cinema for decades. The “comedic team” or “duo” is a rather precious and relatable entity to many moviegoers and the latest entry in this genre, Like a Boss, follows many of these tried and true filmic tropes. The brash and eternally outspoken Tiffany Haddish and the more reserved and proper Rose Byrne headline this silly female bromance and the results are actually a lot better than you might think. Both actresses handle themselves very well here and if you’re looking for a raunchy and frequent gross-out movie, then look no further.
Mia Carter (Haddish) and Mel Paige (Byrne) are best friends since college, joined at the hip, and going places in their shared career. They started their own cosmetics company (Mel & Mia’s) from the ground up and are a true underdog story. When industry powerhouse Claire Luna (Salma Hayek) discovers the small startup and decides to get involved financially, Mel and Mia’s friendship is put to the test, balancing the desire for a quick buck and preserving the integrity of their strong friendship.
Like a Boss is one of the many risqué female comedies to be released in the wake of 2011’s tremendous hit Bridesmaids. That film, like many after it, relies almost exclusively on gross-out gags and sexual gags. Rose Byrne starred in Bridesmaids, so her talents and expertise are put to good use here. She and Tiffany Haddish form an unlikely pair but their chemistry is one of the film’s saving graces. One can even see these two pairing off again in the future.
Now, while Haddish and Byrne are good in this film, it is the wonderful supporting cast that really manages to steal the scene. Salma Hayek is a great villain and her fancy tech office complex (complete with drones floating around randomly) is ridiculously over the top. You can tell she had a lot of fun in this role. The same can be said for the employees at Mel & Mia’s. There’s Jennifer Coolidge (Stifler’s mom from the American Pie films) in a role tailor-made for her. Her ditzy one-liners are fantastic and add a good amount of quirk to the proceedings. Finally, there’s Billy Porter (Broadway thespian), an actor with impeccable comedic timing and a style that is simply unmatched. He plays a flamboyant makeup chemist and he had me laughing harder than at anything else in the film. I don’t know much about Porter’s pervious work but I’m going to start exploring it now.
Like a Boss is mindless, yes, but it’s mindless fun. The jokes are good to a certain extent and I’m just glad this movie wasn’t very long. It actually clocks in at 83 minutes and it does breeze by. Any longer and this might have been painful or if it were longer, then maybe develop the characters a bit more and dig deeper into the leads’ college life together. The jokes fly fast and furious in Like a Boss and that is why it is so short. It’s bittersweet because there are some good actors here (like Porter) but they aren’t fleshed out or given the attention they deserve. Frustrating.
With many comedy films since Bridesmaids and anything by Judd Apatow to fill multiplexes over the past decade, it’s safe to say that originality has somewhat gone out the window. Lazy writing and gross-out gags seem to be the norm here unless you happen to catch a smart well-written comedy like Jojo Rabbit, which not only offers good sight gags but inserts music at clever moments and comments on history in a cute and smart way. Unfortunately, Like a Boss is not this type of comedy and that’s okay. It is still fun and features amusing and likable performances.
Tiffany Haddish is perfect in this movie because she has made a name for herself playing this loud and wild type of character. It is her persona, it is in her DNA, and it works. Ever since Girls Trip, she has proven that this acting method works. The same can be said for Rose Byrne, who typically plays the same uptight straight woman I many of her films. They definitely play off of each other well and one can really believe they are besties and partners in crime. The film is a commentary of friendship and business and how those two worlds can intersect and cause friction. Salma Hayek’s character creates that friction and the results are very humorous. Like a Boss won’t win any awards but it just might win your heart because the performances are so likable. It is the type of movie you know exactly what you’re going to get out of it going in and that is simply to be entertained. On the radar.