Ah, January, the dumping ground of movies. January, the month where movies that would have failed at any other time of the year have a shot at doing moderately well because there’s virtually no competition. For the past few years we’ve gotten some pretty pleasant surprises from January releases. Split was a January release that did pretty well commercially and critically, and last year’s Dragon Ball Super: Broly did way better than anyone expected it to as a limited January release, so it’s certainly possible for a January release to be successful or — dare we say it — good.
Like A Boss will not be one of those movies. It’s a purebred January release if I’ve ever seen one. It would die against even middling competition and be swiftly forgotten almost as quickly as it appeared. That being said, for what it is, it’s actually pretty competent. Not great, but competent. It functions. It gets the job done, no more, no less.
Like A Boss
Director: Miguel Arteta
Release Date: January 10, 2020
You know, forgettable movies are some of the hardest to write reviews about. I know that I’ve seen Like A Boss, but for the life of me I can’t remember thing one about the movie. The premise is about two women, played by Tiffany Haddish and Rose Bryne, that own a make-up company that’s going out of business, but then an eccentric investor and make-up mogul played, by Salma Hayek, decides to invest in their company. At first it goes well for the two parties, but it’s pretty clear that Hayek’s character is trying to absorb their company and pit the two women against each other. Drama ensues, but also hi-jinks because… of course.
I will say that Like A Boss is able to sidestep one of my biggest pet peeves in modern comedies, and that’s watching two actors just improv off of each other and ramble for what seems like an eternity. You know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s those scenes where two actors talk over each other to attempt to get a joke out but it just comes across as two people floundering to find a joke. Like A Boss only does that once, and it’s mercifully brief. As shocked as I am to say this, but most of the jokes actually land more than they miss.
Most of the humor comes from Tiffany Haddish, who is a comic star. Since her breakout role in Girls Trip back in 2017, she’s been consistently the funniest person in whatever movie she’s in. Before watching Like A Boss, a trailer for her other 2020 comedy Bad Trip played and I was dying in my seat watching it. Like A Boss doesn’t quite reach the heights of the trailer to Bad Trip, but whenever I laughed at the movie, nine times out of ten it was due to Haddish.
Rose Byrne does an okay job, but she’s clearly being outclassed by Haddish. As a matter of fact, Haddish outclasses everyone here. In actuality, the rest of the cast feel like they’re on autopilot. Shocking, I know, for a comedy that feels like it was made to balance a budget, but virtually no one here is memorable or has a personality.
Salma Hayek is the worst offender by far. Normally she’s a wonderful actress who has a spark or passion within her performances, but her character is just the stereotypical “Latin woman who speaks Spanish when mad.” There are a few oddities at her expense, like how she’s always carrying around a golf club with no explanation why, but it’s not like it’s building up to a punchline or anything. She just has a golf club with her. Is that supposed to be the joke in and of itself? If so, I don’t get it.
While the interaction between the characters need a lot of work, most of the jokes do manage to land more than they have any right to. Watching a pregnant woman open up a cake only to see the cake shaped like her vagina with everyone talking about how wonderful it looks reminded me of some of the best Whitest Kids You Know sketches. As a matter of fact, the more I think about Like A Boss, the more I’m reminded of their best sketch, “The Grapist.” The best jokes here are similar to why “The Grapist” worked so wonderfully. It had absurdist moments that everyone was just perfectly okay with.. Like A Boss could have had more of those moments, but instead we had characters explaining their character traits and emotional arcs to each other to speed the plot along.
As you would expect from a movie like this, it’s not very long. It comes in at less than an hour and a half. If you cut out the credits and the conflicts that are recycled every 15 minutes, it probably wouldn’t even last an hour. Look, as a comedy, it’s functional. I laughed a few times, but it left absolutely no impact on me. It’s not a bad movie by any stretch of the word. While I do feel completely apathetic discussing it, it still managed to keep me engaged for its entire runtime. This is the kind of movie that’s perfect for a night out. Grab some drinks first, go out and see it, and you’ll have a decent time. You’ll probably forget about it in a drunken stupor, but you’ll be entertained for about an hour and a half. Maybe my standards are just really low right now, but that’s probably as good as it’ll get until mid-February.