Melissa McCarthy is hit-or-miss with most people. Comedy fans tend to be on either side of the love/hate fence for her as they either think she’s brilliant and has impeccable comic timing or they find her to be unbearably obnoxious. I stray on the positive side for her as I have enjoyed far more of her films than not with Bridesmaids, Spy and The Heat standing out especially. Yes, I even enjoyed the universally-panned Tammy if only because it was so dark and Susan Sarandon was such a great, bitter old woman opposite McCarthy’s cheerfulness. I went into this one optimistically but overall it was a pretty big letdown.
The plot is pretty basic and involves multi-billionaire Michelle Darnell (McCarthy) starting out on top of the world and then suddenly losing everything in the blink of an eye thanks to some insider trading. Meanwhile, everyone around her is giving up on the job including her former assistant, Claire (Kristen Bell) who is also a single mother with one young daughter and a need to support her no matter what she has to endure. This includes Claire working at a crummy office job with a terrible boss (SNL‘s Cecily Strong) that treats her like dirt. Eventually, Michelle convinces Claire to let her live at her house until she gets back on her feet. It’s straight-forward, it’s very predictable and honestly the laughs don’t amount to anything more than a few chuckles here and there.
I think one of the biggest drawbacks to the film are the weak chracterizations. McCarthy is fine but she does the very typical thing where characters suddenly get a heart of gold and lose their edge for no other reason other than to serve the plot. I also like Kristen Bell a whole lot but anyone could’ve played her role in this film. She is supposed to be the main character but she had no defining characteristics or any real funny moments so again, she just kind of exists because the plot needs her character. The villains are pretty one-dimensional as well even though Peter Dinklage does provide a few humourous moments. The acting is not the problem. McCarthy does fine and Bell does what she can with the material; it’s just that the material isn’t very good. Don’t even get me started on the weakly-written love interest that gets inserted into the story; he was completely unnecessary.
As I mentioned earlier, the big laughs are few and far between. In fact, one scene that seemed to be a lot funnier in the trailer than it was in the film is one in which two rival girl scout entities go head-to-head in the streets in a violent, bloody brawl that is supposed to be so over-the-top that it becomes funny. The problem with this scene is that it never really pushes the ante as much as it should to become that funny and it kind of suffers in that regard. Whereas Anchorman had the various news anchors clashing in a ridiculous fight that was so insane that it became funny this scene just flounders around and doesn’t really elicit anything more than a couple of mild chuckles.
Overall, it was a letdown that can be described as very “run-of-the-mill” but it has a small amount of semi-amusing moments throughout so it wasn’t a complete wash-out.
* (Brutal; the worst rating)
** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)
*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)
**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)
***** (Flawless; a true achievement)