Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 2020. Artists First, Paramount Pictures. Story by Danielle Sanchez-Witzel, Screenplay by Sam Pitman, Adam Cole-Kelly. Cinematography by Jas Shelton. Produced by Marc Evans, Peter Principato, Itay Reiss, Joel Zadak. Music by Christophe Beck. Production Design by Theresa Guleserian. Costume Design by Sekinah Brown. Film Editing by Jay Deuby.
Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne have been the best of friends since they were little girls, when Haddish’s mother took Byrne in after her own meth-addicted mom couldn’t take care of her. They have stayed close through high school and college and are now business owners together, having launched their own makeup products that they sell in their start-up shop in downtown Atlanta, and Byrne is thrilled when a cosmetics tycoon (Salma Hayek in a hilarious wig, capped teeth and contact lenses) steps in and offers to buy their company, erasing their debt and making them a household name. Haddish is hesitant to do it and is proven right when, after signing papers, they find themselves working for a petty tyrant who grows tired of their lack of ideas and shoves them aside for a different candidate. Now contractually obligated to someone they can’t stand, these ladies have further troubles to deal with when their sour business prospects get in the way of what has up until now been a solid friendship, unleashing the resentments of two people who have been suppressing a good deal of their anger in the name of supporting each other for so long. Taking a tired formula and giving it no new life, this Girlboss fantasy comedy has every intention of paying lip service to the important issues of female friendship and women’s presence in the business world, though, because not much has changed since fifties movies, that business always has to be something “girly” like makeup or magazines. With so few credible moments in its plot, particularly a near-supernatural ending, the feminism has only a weak effect, we were better off when Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion told the same story without trying so hard to be meaningful. It at least has a credible relationship at its centre to help it go down smoothly, Haddish and Byrne have a comfortable chemistry that isn’t in the least difficult to watch, and along with Hayek are having fun without overdoing their comedic madness. They don’t embarrass themselves wading through the bland direction and writing to the finish line, and while director Miguel Arteta has no fresh ideas to add to an old tale, he at least understands that the film doesn’t deserve to be any longer than it is, avoiding any overindulgence in its silliest sequences and keeping things on track until the well-timed finale.