Friday, April 22, 2016

LIZ SMITH: The Boss's free-fall

Melissa McCarthy at the Los Angeles Premiere of "The Boss."
by Liz Smith

Did "The Boss" Fire Melissa McCarthy's Box-Office? Also — Drew Barrymore ... Gloria and Anderson.

"IF YOU do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading," said Lao Tzu.
MELISSA McCarthy is one of the biggest female box-office stars in the U.S. Her films, no matter their quality or reviews, tend to do very well. Her latest, "The Boss" may have ended that winning streak.

Although it opened strong, even beating out "Batman V Superman" which was plummeting after its initial blockbuster debut, now "The Boss" is in free-fall. McCarthy is an extremely funny, appealing woman, a terrific physical comic. More than that, she can be a marvelous, subtle actress. (On TV series such as "Gilmore Girls," "Mike & Molly" as well as features — 2014's excellent "St. Vincent.")
Melissa McCarthy in the "Boss."
But Melissa made her great name and fame as an out-there-on-the-edge comic, in movies such as "Bridesmaids" (great) ... "Spy" (funny, especially with the hilarious support of Rose Byrne and Jason Statham) ... "Tammy," "Identity Thief" and "The Heat" all of which I found grisly.

"The Boss" is as unfunny a thing as one could possibly imagine, with McCarthy once again directed — and scripted — by her husband, Ben Falcone. (He did the execrable "Tammy.") It is badly written, poorly directed, crass, vulgar and a total waste of time. (She plays a ruthless mogul who is jailed, and then seeks to redeem her reputation after her release. I laughed once.)
Melissa with her husband Ben Falcone.
Much more than that, "The Boss" is a criminal waste of McCarthy. It's all fine and well that Melissa and her hubby get on so swimmingly that they want to to work together, but unless Mr. Falcone comes up with better vehicles for his wife, I'd say they should separate professionally. It will probably give them more variety in at-home conversation, too!
Melissa has one more broad comedy on her plate — at least as far as I can tell. It's the reboot of "Ghostbusters" which is planned as a huge summer release. Her co-stars include Leslie Jones, Kristen Wiig, Chris Hemsworth, Kate McKinnon, Andy Garcia, with appearances by some of the cast of the original 1984 movie — Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, Bill Murray. As usual with this sort of thing, fans are divided. Some who cherish the first movie, are appalled, others more sanguine — after all, it's not as if a remake automatically cancels out the source material.
Melissa McCarthy has proved she is — can be — a riot. Now she is 45, and has finally taken steps to improve her health, losing a considerable amount of weight. (I have to admit, even at her heaviest, she has a beautiful face.) Maybe it's time to pause. She is wealthy, famous, happily married, and a major talent. Taking that talent down a different, less raucous path couldn't hurt.
DREW BARRYMORE looks adorably fresh and spring-like on the current cover of Good Housekeeping. She's wearing a big flowered hat of the type favored by the late Queen Mum of Britain. I think Mum would have snatched it right off Drew's head, in fact.

The interview, by Erin Bried, stays off the subject of Drew's impending divorce from Will Kopelman. Although at the time of the chat, perhaps there was still hope. Drew remains a fascinating subject, and unchanging in her enthusiasm, and emotionalism. She tears up at one point, talking to writer Bried about how she cherishes her friendships with other women. (When I interviewed Drew about 15 years ago, she swept me up in her openness and honesty. At one point, when we were both speaking frankly, forgetting the tape recorder was running, she burst into tears — not necessarily unhappy tears, she simply couldn't hold onto her feelings without showing them. This ability to be so in touch with herself — and others — gives her best work a uniquely loveable quality.)

As an infamously over-sophisticated child star, Drew today is adamant that her own two daughters, Olive and Frankie will not even go near the profession until they are 18. (The girls are 3 and 2 respectively, so there's plenty of time to give in a bit.) Barrymore who is more enthusiastic about her eyewear line and her cosmetics business these days, adds in regard to her children: "They'll have chastity belts, a tracker system, no cell phones and we'll live in the middle of nowhere!" She's joking. Sort of. (All parents mull these extreme measures when their children are young, especially now, in the pitiless land of social media, Instagram and super-instant gratification.)

But Miss Barrymore is no drudge. "Girls can do anything" she declares in a vibrant anthem: "Girls should have fun. Life is an all-ages party and everybody's invited!"
THE SUDDEN death of music legend Prince, at the age of only 57, is simply staggering. I never met Prince — although I did see him in person, in fantastic action at an MTV Music Awards performance back in the 1980s — and his work was generally not what I automatically popped into the CD player. (If pressed, however, I can still recall some of the lyrics — and certainly the videos! — to "Little Red Corvette," "Cream" and "U Got The Look.") Still, I admired his independence, and his passion to create his art as he saw fit, no matter the consequences. (In Prince's case, the consequences merely burnished his legend and bound fans to him more devoutly.) I also loved his style, his sly whispery interview attitude and sexy, mysterious looks, usually enhanced by brilliant eye-makeup. He was a star, and an original — I appreciated that. Condolences to Prince's friends and family. An epoch, an era, a legitimate genius is gone.
ENDQUOTE: "Chaos does not frighten me. On the contrary I am comfortable with it. Chaos is my natural habitat. Part of me does long for stability, and always has, but whenever I've achieved it, I haven't been able to let it last. Restlessness is rooted in my nature. Dorothy Parker wrote, 'They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm. And I think that is very true. I was formed by chaos .... it is part of me, like a tattoo."

That is Gloria Vanderbilt, writing to her son, Anderson Cooper in their joint memoir, "The Rainbow Comes and Goes."

I've praised this book previously, but I don't think anything I write, or any other critique can adequately convey the fragility and strength of this unusual glimpse into a mother and son, bonding so intimately. It's ravishing and regretful and hopeful and packed with insights that are identifiable to everyone. Damage and survival are not the exclusive property of "ordinary" folks.

Just read it.

With Denis Ferrara

Contact Liz here.