Girls Trip lead Tiffany Haddish is a supremely gifted comedian.
She gets ‘funny’ in her very bones, radiating the sort of star power that should be harnessed as a renewable energy source.
Sydneysider Rose Byrne has carved a successful niche, too, in hit comedies like Bridesmaids and Spy, both alongside Melissa McCarthy.
It’s a no-brainer, then, to team them up in buddy flick Like a Boss.
It sees besties and housemates Mia (Haddish) and Mel (Byrne) trying to figure out a way to keep their struggling cosmetics start-up afloat.
When Salma Hayek’s Botox and bosom-proud mega-millionaire beauty industry boss Claire Luna rocks up all lip gloss and killer instincts wanting to buy in, it seems their prayers are answered. But when you swim with sharks …
Throw in the sterling support of comedic wingfolks Billy Porter (Pose), Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie, 2 Broke Girls) and Natasha Rothwell (Insecure) and you’re onto a box office winner, right?
Not according to Manohla Dargis at the New York Times. She opined that the movie, “peddles toothless sisterhood while operating from the premise that there’s something inherently funny about women cursing, having sex and getting stoned”.
Lisa Kennedy at Variety was more forgiving, noting Haddish and Byrne bring “frisky and believable chemistry to laughs, some worn, some crude, but more than a few delivered deftly and consistently enough to keep audiences smiling – if not doubled over”.
The NYT view was in the clear majority, with 105 critics on aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes driving it down to basement bomb level at 20 per cent.
I’m much closer to the Variety take, and it’s interesting to note that the public vote on Rotten Tomatoes pegged it at 65 per cent, which I think is about right, if a touch too generous.
I get why Like a Boss isn’t proving popular with critics, I really do.
It’s pretty lightweight at under 90 minutes and has a skewiff ‘capitalism is good, except when it’s not’ message, plus similarly wobbly feminist cred.
It sure can be crude and could def lose jokes aimed at Hayek’s exaggerated accent.
But here’s the thing. When we get beyond-the-pale, bloke-focused comedies like The Hangover movies, or the foul-mouthed and definitely not as clever as it thinks it is Deadpool, they’re hailed as a ripper riot.
What does whiff a fair bit is that, despite the film predominantly featuring women, the creative team is bloke central.
Directed by Miguel Arta (Cedar Rapids, Duck Butter), debut feature writers Sam Pittman and Adam Cole-Kelly penned the script, working from an idea by Danielle Sanchez-Witzel. Insert chin-rub emoji here.
While it’s probably not ideal that Hayek (who was brilliant in Arta’s much more nuanced Beatriz at Dinner) is a cartoonish villain – replete with an obsequious sidekick in Karan Soni – how is that so far off the mark in our murky world of corporate malfeasance?
Plus she’s clearly having a hootenanny – swinging golf club and all.
I found myself regularly chuckling at the base sex jokes, inappropriate baby shower cake and silly machinations, and in these dark days, is that such a bad thing?
Haddish and Hayek smacking down is a treat, and sue me if I found Byrne regularly toking on a doobie inherently amusing.
Is this going to win any awards? Hell no.
But not every comedy has to be razor-sharp and satirically insightful.
Sometimes a daft Friday night laugh is all we need.
Like a Boss is in Australian cinemas now