Courtesy of Paramount Picture
As a fan of both Tiffany Haddish (I was probably the only person on the planet who liked “The Kitchen” and her performance) and Rose Byrne, I wanted to see their new comedy “Like A Boss” - the first of 2020 - succeed and instead the movie feels airless and has the look of a sitcom with cheapen production values. The only saving grace is that, thanks to numerous re-edits in post production, it’s only 83 minutes.
“Like A Boss” has a strong message at its core: as two lifelong buds - Mel (Byrne) and Mia (Haddish) - are currently living out their dreams of owning and operating a prestigious cosmetic and makeup shop. It’s refreshing to see women of color represented in the pursuit of capturing the American dream, however, Mel sees the writing on the wall, and their best selling product, a “one-night-stand” makeup kit that nets them $21k a month, can’t get them out of their six-figure debt. Never mind proper accounting and actual business logistics, in walks a thick accented big-toothed mogul played by Salma Hayek to hopefully solve their money problems. But first the duo must prove their worth in an ever changing business landscape and even get pitted against a “straight male” cosmetic duo whose company's mission statement is to “Get Some” and director Miguel Areta never hones in on the actual struggles women face in the workplace. Instead of being an anthem of female empowerment, “Like A Boss” and its undercooked characters and plotting runs circles around what it wants to say.
Paring Haddish and Byrne proves bountiful for the first twenty minutes when it's apparent the two are riffing off the other and it feels organic. After that, “Like A Boss” becomes uninteresting, lazy, and extremely boring. There’s cringeworthy sight gags involving a ghost pepper being cooked into a main characters dinner and ends in milk induced vomiting, and we can’t forget the one where Mel and Mia smoke a joint in the same room as a newborn baby. Jennifer Coolidge of “American Pie” fame and the almost legendary Billy Porter do little with thankless roles as Mel and Mia’s employed posse and by the time the credits begin “Like A Boss” doesn’t really teach us anything. What should have been a terrific buddy comedy vehicle for its lead stars, turns into a structurally incoherent mess rather quickly.