A Word of Warning: This home release review is going to get a little personal. If you want to know about the film without all the excess, jump to the spoiler-free theatrical review.
The whole reason I love movies as much as I do is that I love stories. It’s always better when they are told well, when they engage you, and when they offer something lasting. You can’t always predict where you’ll find them, which is why I try to watch as much as possible without concern for release era, genre, or budget. I still can’t handle the gory stuff, but that doesn’t mean I shy away from horror, I just try to explore in a more conscientious manner. So, what does any of that have to do with the Paramount Pictures comedy Like A Boss? I may be one of the few critics who saw it that enjoyed it. And that’s fine, frankly, as this is a film that came out exactly when I needed it to. I lost one of my best friends unexpectedly on January 1st, 2020, and sitting in the theater on January 7th offered a catharsis I desperately needed.
We met in middle school when she moved to town and, if not for her, I’d likely have remained this dorky kid with only one real friend. She became my first sister, one who helped get me into more trouble than I ever would have alone, and, as we grew up to be young adults, one who would stand by me, and I by her, at our respective weddings. I was so proud to introduce her to my son after he was born and will mourn that she never got to meet him as a toddler or young child. This shining light of a person, someone whom I’d lost touch with over time and distance, nevertheless made an indelible impact on my life. It brought me such comfort knowing she was out in the world and that whenever we did get together, it felt like no time had passed. So, when a conversation takes place in Like A Boss, a film centered on two friends who became close as kids, and someone comments to Salma Hayek’s Claire Luna not to “worry her pretty little head,” I nearly burst into tears in the theater. That was something I said to her in anger and she never let me forget it, often repeating it to me over the years just to screw with me. It’s for this reason that Like A Boss resonates for me more than others. It spoke to the relationship that I had with her and reminded me of the connection we had. I will likely mourn the loss of her for the rest of my life, but will take comfort in knowing that she was deeply loved by her friends and family, the ones who saw her more often, engaged with her, and learned from her as I did.
I think, if nothing else, that’s what Like A Boss speaks to. It speaks to the connection and significance of friendship above all else. It’s not that a friend has to choose you over someone else, but that they’d be there for you no matter what. If you’re lucky enough to find someone like that, then the characters created by Danielle Sanchez-Witzel (My Name Is Earl) will feel like more than the performances from the cast. Yes, they are slightly elevated in their presentation because it’s a comedy and making people more regular, more straight, is better for dramatic films. Yes, the central narrative could be avoided if the two characters spoke to one another, but, again, without a conflict, even one that seems slightly uncharacteristic, there is no film. Although, I would argue that the conflict makes sense because there is an unspoken conflict present between the two leads, Mia Carter (Tiffany Haddish) and Mel Paige (Rose Bryne), and Claire Luna’s antagonistic behavior just takes advantage of the conflict and the characters’ unaddressed insecurities. Considering that the comedy is not subtle, trying to clue in audiences who are not looking for the under-stated conflict becomes more of an uphill battle. I wonder if I noticed it because of the struggle I was in at the theater. That I wondered if my friend knew how much she meant to me, how much the shelter of her home meant to me and to our other friends growing up, that we had these things that we never talked about and never would again. This person who was a litmus test for every person I dated and new friend to whom I introduced her to. I thought about all the things we fought over as kids in middle and high school and all the ways we fought for each other when I moved away my senior year of high school. While she and I were never business partners like Mia and Mel, the nature of their relationship, foibles and all, made such clear sense, even as things got more and more absurd. But then, Like a Boss is a comedy and it’s supposed to get laughably strange.
Back to the home review, Like a Boss features two bonus features and two deleted scenes. The first feature, “With Coworkers Like These, Who Needs Friends?,” is the only behind the scenes look audiences get. In an almost six-minute featurette, members of the principle cast and crew share stories of making the film. Often these features try to make the set seem like a fun place, especially when it’s a comedy, but “Who Needs Friends?” really conveys the familial nature of the production, explaining why the chemistry between the cast was so fantastic. Evidently Haddish would host a Sunday night potluck with the entire cast and crew invited, wherein games and other bonding moments would occur. The second, also brief, featurette “’Get Some’ with Ron and Greg” features Jimmy O. Yang and Ryan Hansen as the characters from the film doing a faux-interview for their products. Their characters are meant to grate and were used in small doses in the film proper. Not sure why they got this small vignette, but, hey, if you liked them, now you get more of them. The deleted scenes are a strange before/after bit focused on Mel and Luna doing a bonding exercise that’s also meant to push Mel further from Mia. The strange part is both scenes take place at an iFLY, yet there’s no footage of the characters using the machine. Beyond that, while amusing, the interaction is just a different location for a conversation already in-place in the final cut, making it unnecessary.
There’s really no way to know how a film will connect with you until you watch it. Something people call a classic may not resonate and films people abhor might be your absolute favorite. Even stranger, how you feel about a film will likely change over time because you evolve and the story remains the same. While I doubt Like a Boss will ever reach the heights of Army of Darkness, Superman: The Movie, or Big Trouble in Little China in terms of my pinnacle films, there’s no question that it will always be something I cherish, if only because it’s a film about the resiliency of friendship that will forever remind me of my friend.
Like A Boss Special Features
- With Coworkers Like These, Who Needs Friends? (5:42)
- “Get Some” with Ron and Greg (2:18)
- Deleted Scenes (2:33)
Available on digital April 7th, 2020.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD April 21st, 2020.