Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne in Like a Boss (Photo: Paramount)

LIKE A BOSS
★ (out of four)
DIRECTED BY Miguel Arteta
STARS Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne

In lieu of an actual review, it’s sometimes tempting to quote a representative line or two from the movie being critiqued and leave it at that. This way, readers who hate the sample dialogue and want to wash their eyes out with soap will know to skip the film while those who think the words compare favorably to those spoken in, say, The Philadelphia Story or Chinatown will know that tickets should be purchased as soon as possible.

With that in mind, here’s a choice bit of dialogue from Like a Boss, the new comedy pairing Girls Trip’s Tiffany Haddish with Bridesmaids’ Rose Byrne. Upon someone mentioning that a particular man smells especially nice, one of the employees (Jennifer Coolidge) at the beauty shop Mia & Mel’s chirps, “Oh, he does smell fresh and clean, like a thermometer before it goes in your butt!”

Somehow, I can’t quite picture Katharine Hepburn uttering such a line, but I digress. Like a Boss is a truly terrible movie that wastes the talents of a good cast in material that would be beneath everyone with the exception of Rob Schneider.

Although the initial story idea came from a woman, the actual screenplay was written by two men and the film was directed by a man. I think it’s fair to ask if a woman did something mean to at least one of them in the distant past, whether it was turning down a dance at the prom, refusing to have sex without a condom, or not grasping the greatness of the Suicide Squad movie. Like a Boss presents itself as being about female solidarity and female strength, as lifelong friends Mia (Haddish) and Mel (Byrne) sell 49% ownership of their cosmetic company to industry giant Claire Luna (Salma Hayek) and then fall victim to Claire’s efforts to tear them apart so she can gain control of the business. Really, though, it’s about finding obnoxious ways to demean its characters through witless situations and infantile quips.

One could fill a dozen bingo cards with the insipid dialogue and moronic sight gags that saturate this film, from a discussion about rubbing a dog’s penis against one’s lips to a shot of a cake that’s shaped like a baby’s bloody head coming out of a vagina (“Is that black icing supposed to be the pubes?”).

Not only are Haddish and Byrne — exemplary comediennes, both — unable to survive this film’s idiocy, they’re damaged by it in that this is the first time both of them have come across as screen irritants rather than film enhancers. They’ll need something superior to bounce back from this — heck, even an Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel might have to do.

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