Wealthy CEO Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy) always gets her way, until she’s busted for insider trading and sent to federal prison. After leaving jail, Darnell finds herself broke, homeless and hated. Luckily, she tracks down former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell), the only person who’s willing to help. While staying with Claire and her young daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson), the ex-con devises a new business model for a brownie empire. Unfortunately, some old enemies including a business rival named Renault (Peter Dinklage) stand in the way of her return to the top.
Melissa McCarthy as an actress has been very divisive, people either love her movies or they hate them. They are definitely not for everyone and I could understand why. I’ve personally never had a problem with any of them. While not all her films have been great, I still enjoyed them for the most part. The one thing I’ve found about her films is that she seems to always play the same type of character, with varying degrees of success, a boisterous, bumbling, sometimes obnoxious comic-relief type character. That can be okay, which is the reason I keep coming back but the rest of the writing has to be good.
The story here involves a wealthy CEO named Michelle Darnell (McCarthy) who was used to always getting her way until she gets busted for insider trading and sent to prison. Once she leaves, she then finds herself broke, homeless, and hated. Desperate, she tracks down her former assistant Claire (Bell), the only person willing to help. While staying with Claire and her daughter Rachel (Anderson), she devises a plan to regain her former glory by starting her own brownie empire. Unfortunately, some old enemies including a business rival named Renault (Dinklage) stand in her way on her road back to the top.
Earlier I mentioned that McCarthy plays the same character in all of her films, I just want to say that this does not change here and that’s okay. We can’t always get Susan Coopers or Megans because we sometimes are going to get Tammys and Dianas (those are some of her other characters if you didn’t know, IMDB or Google them if you want). From that spectrum, I would say that Michelle Darnell falls within the middle. She is crude, she is dirty, she is foul-mouthed but I never found it too much or go too far. Of course all of it didn’t always work for me but for the most part, I didn’t mind. I admit that I laughed at about 75-80% of the jokes and kind of asked why for the rest. I found McCarthy had a lot of screen presence here, not only because she is the star, but because she seems to get all the work here as no one else here remotely got a chance to excel (easy since she co-wrote the film with her husband who also directs).
I found the story to be pretty predictable but it’s not hard to guess that a woman who was rich and then becomes poor would then become rich again. Of course Darnell would face obstacles along the way back to the top in the form of Renault and there would be some self-exploration along the way but this was still sort of compelling to watch. McCarthy and Bell had great chemistry together and were fun to watch. Bell played the straight man here, trying to reign in McCarthy’s general craziness, and did a good job but like I said before, I wish she had more to do here and was wasted here. She is a great actress and had a lot to offer. I also enjoyed the family scenes as I thought Claire and Rachel’s relationship contrasted well with Michelle’s own family problems as the beginning of the film established. Michelle never had a family which led to her own self-reliance which created the person she was today and of course she is not used to being part of a family which changes her.
Dinklage as Renault was a serviceable villain but I think the film could have gone further with him as I did not find him to a very developed character. I think they made his character too crazy as they made him an old friend, lover, business rival, eccentric, and a samurai enthusiast. This was a little too out there for me but I still Dinklage did a decent job with what he had. I still enjoyed his exchanges with Darnell since they had great chemistry.
I will end this by saying that if you are looking at this film thinking that it is about female empowerment (why would you?) then you’d be wrong. There’s a scene involving girl scout types fighting each other. This is just another vehicle for McCarthy to do what she does best. If you’re not a McCarthy fan, this one probably won’t change your mind but I still found some laughs here. Sure some of the jokes are stupid and don’t all work but they can’t all be perfect.