Fans anticipated the release of the film “Like a Boss” with high expectations for a story with female empowerment and hilarious comedy. The movie meets all of these expectations with original vitality, thanks to incredible performances and hilarity from lead actress Tiffany Haddish, her co-star Rose Byrne and supporting actress Salma Hayek. Although “Like a Boss” shines with originality in its humor, it relies upon stereotypes, loose plotlines and a bright enamel coating to frame these performances.
Directed by Miguel Arteta, with screenplay by Sam Pitman and Adam Cole-Kelly, “Like a Boss” introduces Mel (Byrne) and Mia (Haddish) as best friends who run their own makeup company and live together. The film draws upon common stereotypes of female friendships — sleepovers, boy advice and hair wisdom — but with grown-up twists. The relationship between Mel and Mia is relatable and hilarious, making for the perfect girls’ movie.
This relationship, however, and the humor that accompanies it, is not enough to fill the numerous plot holes. After being almost half a million dollars in debt, a mysterious beneficiary arrives, a makeup mogul by the name of Claire Luna (Hayek), and the women believe all of their problems are solved. Despite their precarious situation, the women live glamorous and highly comfortable lifestyles. Taking liberties on reality to prioritize the comical and aesthetic aspects of the film, “Like a Boss” seems to gloss over the financial strife that women in these positions would really face.
But to call “Like a Boss” a situational comedy would account for the lack of depth and weak plot of the film. As a comedy, “Like a Boss” is an absolute treat. Haddish owns every second of her performance, playing the fiery, quick-witted Mia. Haddish’s style of comedy is original, relatable and consistent, making for countless moments of enjoyment. Byrne also delivers a stunning performance, but in significant contrast to Haddish’s. Playing the down-to-earth Mel, Byrne fills the film with her own unique style of humor: less quick-witted and more situational.
This originality in the dialogue of each character makes for some wonderful on-screen moments. Hayek’s character plays on the conniving; as a textbook villain, she embodies the ruthless but sexy persona of Claire, setting up many of the best comedic moments. Additionally, appearing throughout the film as unique and lively supporting characters are Barrett (Billy Porter) and Sydney (Jennifer Coolidge), Mel and Mia’s employees. Porter, who stars in the Netflix series “Pose,” assumes an exuberant and dramatic personality as a creative employee. Sydney, as a sales employee, crafts moments of unsolicited storytelling into curiously realistic tidbits.
Despite the highly skilled cast, the use of outdated — and occasionally offensive — stereotypes in building the characters cannot be overlooked. For example, Claire’s character edges on offensive by employing racist stereotypes of Latinx women — the Hollywood trope of the Latinx villain is seemingly represented in Hayek’s caricatured portrayal as exotic, overly sexual and treacherous.
A far more intricate stereotype is the portrayal of men in the film. Flipping the script, in which Hollywood has historically portrayed women as stock characters only present to support a strong male lead, “Like a Boss” does the opposite. Men appear only as flamboyant assistants, sex toys or misogynistic businessmen. The movie takes a risk with this portrayal, which excludes and stereotypes men — however, the film serves to show men (for once) what this treatment feels like. “Like a Boss” may create stock male characters, but in doing so, it highlights how unfamiliar Hollywood is with women in the lead and men in supporting roles.
“Like a Boss” is full of hilarious, original performances, perfect for a girls’ night out. Its lack of depth, plastic aesthetic and stereotype-ridden characters, however, prevent it from reaching its full potential.
Contact Nathalie Grogan at [email protected].