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A very rich woman’s ex-lover sends her to jail forcing her to live with her former assistant. Someone who only reluctantly takes her in but, after tasting some of her brownies, decides the two of them can build an empire together. Now, as for whether that empire lasts or not, it all depends on the formerly rich woman’s trust issues.
Just about every year Melissa McCarthy comes out with a comedy and with the exception of Tammy, which was a moderate disappointment, she hasn’t failed to deliver a film with consistent laughs. But there is something different about this film. For while McCarthy has always played funny women who have had high confidence, and were all highly similar, there is a slight evolution here to her character formula. Something which hints that while she maybe the queen of comedy now, she could venture into drama and possibly do well.
Main Storyline (with Commentary)
Melissa McCarthy is back as a woman who very much seems like a parody of Suze Orman. Yet, as we get to meet her, we realize that her look is perhaps as far as that comparison goes. For fact of the matter is, while McCarthy’s character Michelle Darnell may first appear as some Suze Orman financial advisor, she is actually a business shark. One which betrayed her former lover Renault (Peter Dinklage) to get a promotion and also screwed over perhaps the first woman who ever gave her some sense of family. Said woman is Ida Marquette (Kathy Bates).
But what is the focus of this film is Michelle redeeming herself. Something which she doesn’t do with Ida, but at the very least does with Renault and especially Claire (Kristen Bell). Someone who was her assistant, without a raise for many years, when Michelle was on top and the only person she really had to turn to when she reached rock bottom. Yet, despite all Claire does for her, including providing her a way back to prominence, Michelle’s trust issues from being constantly abandoned as a kid infect each and every one of her relationships. Leaving you wondering if she may ever learn to just trust someone and know the meaning of loyalty.
As with the majority of McCarthy films, between the dirty jokes, physical comedy, and the comedic situations, you will be laughing throughout the movie. I’ve counted about 33 times and while McCarthy was the primary source of laughs, Mr. Dinklage was also a huge part of that. For truly, you have to thank the folks at Game of Thrones for not only making him a mainstream actor but also whoever is his agent. I mean, between the air of supremacy and the lines written for him, honestly, while Dinklage is probably more an exception than a glass ceiling breaker, it is hard to not admit he is showing that actors of his size have no limits in their capabilities. Be it as love interested, comedic characters, or even taking on serious roles which can have no mention of his size.
Alongside the laughter, I must say I was surprised to get a little teary eyed. For while most comedies have that moment where usually the lead realizes they went too far, Michelle’s backstory amplified it in such a way that it made her apology to Claire a little heartbreaking. Though, to be honest, more so it is the relationship between Michelle and Rachel (Ella Anderson) which brings hear to this movie. Michelle, during her down days, becomes like an aunt to Rachel and despite not knowing the girl existed while she was on top, she quickly settles into the role of defending the girl and being that family member it seems Claire doesn’t give her access to. Since, in the film, Claire has no relationship with Rachel’s dad, and her family seemingly has no part in her life.
Perhaps one of the most glaring issues with this film is we aren’t necessarily told why Michelle ended up an orphan, nor why each family she was with, after 5 years, would return her to the same orphanage. On top of that, while Michelle does reconcile with Claire, Rachel, and even Renault, she doesn’t have the same reconciliation with Ida. Someone who is portrayed as Michelle’s first real mother figure and perhaps the person she screwed over to go from well-off to rich. Which was a problem for me since while the Rachel and Michelle reconciliation was done in a heartfelt way, pretty much the Michelle and Ida reconciliation never truly happened. It is just portrayed as Michelle wanting an investor, Ida seeing a money opportunity, and them not reconciling but Ida just agreeing to invest for the sake of money. Which seemed so odd since Ida cursed up a storm when Michelle’s name was mentioned and she still seemed hurt by Michelle betrayal just minutes before they made a deal.
Another major issue with this film is that there isn’t a lot of development done or rather it feels a tad slapped together. Take Claire for example, Rachel’s father is but a TA from college who isn’t spoken of but in one scene, despite Claire’s brownie recipe being a family one, we don’t see or hear about any of her family members, and then when it comes to Claire’s life outside of Michelle, it all comes off so bland that it honestly made me wish her character was cut. I mean, and this isn’t a dig at Bell but more so the character, I honestly wish that after Michelle’s fall Claire was out and moved on. Now, as for how Rachel and the brownie recipe would play into this? Well, to fix the Ida issue, Rachel could be a girl Ida adopted and Michelle could have ended up watching her as Ida maid. This would have made a humbling experience for Michelle, allowed Michelle to form a bond with a kid, maybe even still start the brownie empire, and ultimately reform a bond with the woman who was her first taste of family. Hell, they could have even kept Renault in terms of him trying to convince Ida that Michelle hasn’t changed and probably kept the same climax.
Speaking of Renault, the beginning of his and Michelle’s spat seemed a bit off. Now, granted we do learn Michelle has trust issues, but it seems her getting promoted over him is the core of their issues. But, before Michelle so graciously takes the promotion, she notes that Renault tried to steal her client list from her. Making you wonder what is the foundation of their relationship? Competition, her liking his sexual prowess, or was it something else?
On The Fence
Alongside Renault, another antagonist in the film is a woman named Helen (Annie Mumolo) and again we see a character who the script drops the ball on. For while she doesn’t have Renault’s money, she is the one who is supposed to be competing against Michelle’s brownie empire. Yet after the epic brawl we see in the trailer, she isn’t shown again until the end of the movie. Which I feel like I should be fine with since who would want a 3-hour movie dealing with all of the enemies Michelle has made, but sometimes it is hard to not wonder why the film has all these characters given what seem like prominent roles to only make them into meek characters.