Tiffany Haddish Is Hilarious in Otherwise Mediocre Comedy ‘Like a Boss’
Since her breakout role in 2017’s “Girls Trip,” comedic powerhouse Tiffany Haddish seems to steal the show in just about everything she has been in, and her no-holds-barred brand of humor and performance style has livened up more than a few films that would have been otherwise forgettable. This is the case with “Like a Boss,” a female buddy comedy that pairs her with Rose Byrne, an Aussie actress who has become an unlikely comedic talent in recent years.
Haddish and Byrne have great chemistry as Mia and Mel, a pair of best friends since middle school who became business partners. At first, they seem like friendship goals, but it is not long before it becomes apparent that their relationship is codependent. The two of them run a cosmetics company, Mia & Mel, where Mia is the creative force and Mel runs the business end of things. Despite selling innovative products like One Night Stand, a single-use make-up kit, the company is nearly a half a million in debt, something Mel tries to keep from Mia.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Josh (Karan Soni), the assistant to cosmetic mogul Claire Luna (Salma Hayek), comes knocking, his boss having heard of their One Night Stand kit. They meet the woman herself, and she agrees to pay Mia & Mel’s debut in exchange for 51 percent of the company, an offer that Mia balks at, leading to the first of many major disagreements between the besties. Eventually, they settle at 49 percent, but things start to go off the rails once Claire rejects their whole philosophy regarding makeup being used to enhance natural beauty, pushing them to be “fiercest.”
Not surprisingly, Claire has an ulterior motive, and she works overtime to pit the women against each other. Hayek tries a little too hard in this role as a cartoonish villain, who acts more like the evil queen in a fairy tale than a ruthless businessperson. The makeup and wardrobe departments must have worked overtime to transform one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood into a horrendously tacky creature, a look that is, like her performance, a little over the top.
“Like a Boss” has a lot of things going for it. In addition to Haddish and Byrne, there’s a few decent supporting players, including Billy Porter, who kills as Barrett, Mia and Mel’s extremely extra employee. Jennifer Coolidge, playing the same sort of sad divorced lady role that she always does, gets a few laughs in as Sydney, another employee. There’s also plenty of funny moments that single women in their thirties and forties will relate to, as Mia and Mel get a lot flack for their lifestyle, particularly from their supposedly happily married mommy friends (Ari Graynor, Natasha Rothwell, Jessica St. Clair).
However, although the film isn’t completely predictable, the women find themselves in too many contrived situations. Even with a runtime of 83 minutes, it feels overstuffed. The usually hilarious Jimmy O. Yang is completely wasted as one-half of a duo of bros (along with Ryan Hansen) who are supposed to be Mel & Mia’s competition, a one-joke premise about a pair of straight guys who decided to go into cosmetics. By the third act, the story completely flounders, and a “friend” is brought in to salvage things. Unfortunately, a hilarious cameo and a half-assed message about female empowerment can’t save this messy script.
“Like a Boss” opens Jan. 10 nationwide.