Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2016. Gary Sanchez Productions, On the Day, Universal Pictures. Screenplay by Ben Falcone, Steve Mallory, Melissa McCarthy. Cinematography by Julio Macat. Produced by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay. Music by Christopher Lennertz. Production Design by Rusty Smith. Costume Design by Wendy Chuck. Film Editing by Craig Alpert.
Melissa McCarthy grew up in a series of foster homes and never knew familial love, which only spurred her ambition to succeed in the world and, as an adult, has done just that. Now one of the richest women in America, she has become a celebrity tycoon, giving stadium-sized seminars that promise to teach others how she got rich while maintaining her shark-like takeover of companies in her off time. When her business rival (a ridiculous performance by Peter Dinklage, who always seems too desperate to be funny) gets her thrown in jail for insider trading, she loses everything including her assistant (Kristen Bell) from whom she had never inspired much loyalty to begin with. Out of jail and with nothing but a Louis Vuitton suitcase to her name, McCarthy flops on Bell’s couch and begins again from the bottom, inspired by her former assistant’s baking skills to turn a delicious brownie recipe into her next climb to the top of the corporate ladder. Along the way, she also learns that personal connections, which she has always avoided, are not just diametrically opposite to success but actually an essential part of it, but don’t worry, this movie is not going to challenge our habit of needing powerful women to be nice. There’s no examining the double standard of admiring cruel male tycoons while punishing women who aren’t constantly thanking everyone for success (which is, let’s face it, what really got Martha Stewart thrown in jail); instead we are treated to the slapstick comedy of brutal fights and a wonky sofa bed that flings people against the wall like cooked spaghetti. What makes up for this, however, is the fact that there are some richly funny sequences (including McCarhty’s face-offs with her Bridesmaids screenwriter Annie Mumolo as a tight-assed Girl Scout-parody mom) and terrific chemistry between all cast members, headed up by a hilarious performance from the star. McCarthy tones her usual verbal diarrhea down to sharp and funny speeches that show a lack of politically correct sensitivity and a keen eye for rude honesty (it’s not nice to tell Bell that she looks homeless in the sweater she plans to wear on a date, but we’re so glad she said it first). Bell, never one to mind giving someone else the good moments, is terrific at maintaining straight sidekick mode but manages a few chuckles of her own. The whole thing is so silly and good natured that you won’t have any choice but to root for the home team, plus the star’s wardrobe and hair are a sight in themselves.