Raucous workplace comedy Like A Boss 'an ugly and contrived celebration of female empowerment'

Two best friends (Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne) struggle to separate their personal and professional lives in Like a Boss.

Tiffany Haddish as Mia Carter, Salma Hayek as Claire Luna and Rose Byrne as Mel Paige
Damon Smith

BEAUTY comes from within and is enhanced by a spritz of sisterly solidarity in director Miguel Arteta's raucous workplace comedy.

Like A Boss is an ugly and contrived celebration of female empowerment, which squanders the sparkling comic talents of Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne and Salma Hayek.

Feeble punchlines land with uncomfortable thuds as the cast sheds blood, sweat and beautifully lit tears to wring one genuine giggle from the wreckage of Sam Pitman and Adam Cole-Kelly's misconceived script.

Presumably, Arteta's cosmetics caper was considerably funnier on the page to attract inveterate scene-stealers Billy Porter, Jennifer Coolidge and Karan Soni to meaty supporting roles, plus a starry surprise cameo in the final reel.

Alas, our frown lines take lasting effect in opening scenes and no amount of Botox injections can shift them as the picture staggers between ham-fisted set pieces including literal toilet humour sparked by dangerously hot ghost peppers and a musical sing-along choreographed to Tina Turner's Proud Mary that is more likely to inspire shame.

For a film which venerates the rejuvenating power of friendship, Like A Boss shows no discernible signs of intelligent life.

Mia Carter (Haddish) and Mel Paige (Byrne) have been best friends since junior high school, where they nurtured a mutual passion for make-up.

The gal pals run a homemade cosmetics store, Mia&Mel, aided by faithful employees Barrett (Porter) and Sydney (Coolidge).

Mia is the dynamic, creative force behind the product range and isn't afraid to speak her mind: "We shouldn't feel bad about putting our careers first. We're just acting like men!"

Conversely, Mel is the meek voice of reason who manages the books.

She discloses the business is 493,000 US dollars in debt and persuades Mia to consider an investment proposal from Claire Luna (Hayek), figurehead of the Oviedo brand.

Claire demands a 51 per cent stake in Mia&Mel in exchange for a cash injection.

The cosmetics mogul expects Mia and Mel to abandon their touchy-feely approach to female beauty and "inspire the ugly people to buy themselves into gorgeousness".

After much debate, Mia and Mel agree to give Claire a 49 per cent share in the business, which guarantees they retain control as long as their professional partnership remains intact.

Once the contract ink is dry, Claire plots with assistant Josh (Karan Soni) to divide and conquer by turning Mel and Mia against one another.

Like A Boss is a bottle of fizz that has been left out overnight: the packaging and ingredients make your mouth water but from the first sip, the taste is flat and unappealing.

Haddish and Byrne's double-act has a faint whiff of desperation while Hayek's conniving business titan lacks the killer one-liners of a bona fide pantomime villain.

Any boos or hisses from the audience will be for entirely the wrong reasons.

Rating: 3/10

LIKE A BOSS (15, 83 mins) Comedy/Drama/Romance. Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne, Salma Hayek, Karan Soni, Billy Porter, Jennifer Coolidge. Director: Miguel Arteta.

Released: February 21

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