Like a Boss

Like a Boss

2020, R, 83 min. Directed by Miguel Arteta. Starring Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne, Salma Hayek, Billy Porter, Jennifer Coolidge, Karan Soni, Jessica St. Clair, Natasha Rothwell, Ari Graynor, Jacob Latimore.

REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., Jan. 10, 2020

Not since a barefooted Raquel Welch battled dinosaurs in a prehistoric bikini back in One Million Years B.C. has a female bosom dominated an otherwise woefully underdeveloped movie as in this cheerless comedy about bitchery in the cosmetics business, with the amply endowed Hayek glamping it up as ruthless mogul Claire Luna, who’s hellbent on gobbling up a financially struggling small beauty company owned by longtime besties Mel (Byrne) and Mia (Haddish). Coiffed in spitfire-red curls and decked out in eye-popping outfits revealing various states of décolletage, Hayek imperiously trots through the movie on platform heels like a diminutive Rita Hayworth intent on world domination, accessorizing her cartoony version of corporate womanhood with a golf club that she occasionally uses to assert her alpha authority with a glass-smashing tantrum. And then there’s that inescapable bosom. When a smells-a-rat Mia advises the conniving Claire not to worry her pretty little head about an aspect of a business deal, the villainous magnate retorts, “My head isn't little. It's just that my breasts are humangous,” with Hayek applying a thicker-than-usual Latin accent to pronounce the last word in a punchline teetering on political incorrectness in so many ways.

Aside from the committee-written script with no coherent perspective, the trouble with Like a Boss is that it never crudely outrages. It’s a bust in so many ways. The halfhearted gender and cultural political incorrectness of Hayek’s ridiculous character makes for halfhearted laughs, and that’s being generous. She could have chomped down on the role, but the movie holds her back and focuses more on the deteriorating personal and business dynamic between Mia and Mel. It’s nice to witness the notion of female bonding here if not a completely believable enactment of it, though there’s an undeniable rapport between Haddish and Byrne. But without a jester nemesis with whom they can comically parry joke for joke, the two – who are no strangers to outrageous and crude humor (Girls Trip, Bridesmaids) – falter in the laugh department, sometimes embarrassingly so. (An early scene involving a blunt, a sleeping infant, and a ponytail extension sets the unfunny tone.) Even the fearlessly over-the-top Porter is constrained here, though he has a deliciously drama-queen scene that he most likely insisted upon, if only to entertain himself. After Mia and Mel unceremoniously fire Porter’s makeup mixologist during a bistro luncheon, he insists the two witness his tragic moment as he hammily exits the restaurant if he were playing Medea. Upon the basis of those few silly minutes, Porter proves he’s the boss in Like a Boss.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Miguel Arteta
He's Not in Wisconsin Anymore
He's Not in Wisconsin Anymore
Director Miguel Arteta on his bumpkin-in-the-big-city comedy, 'Cedar Rapids'

Marjorie Baumgarten, Feb. 18, 2011

More Miguel Arteta Films
Beatriz at Dinner
Classes clash over chow

Kimberley Jones, June 16, 2017

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
This pleasant throwback to the live-action Disney films of yore provides brisk fun for all.

Marjorie Baumgarten, Oct. 10, 2014

More by Steve Davis
The Killing of Two Lovers
Traumatizing tale of a collapsing marriage is a taut masterpiece

May 14, 2021

There Is No Evil
Iranian anthology walks the line between life and death

May 14, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Like a Boss, Miguel Arteta, Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne, Salma Hayek, Billy Porter, Jennifer Coolidge, Karan Soni, Jessica St. Clair, Natasha Rothwell, Ari Graynor, Jacob Latimore

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle