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Girls Tripped

Eli Joshua Ade/Paramount Pictures

Like a Boss (2020)

Miguel Arteta’s distinctive directorial style could, depending on the film, be seen as either auteuristic or indicative of a limited range. He is at his most memorable, for better or worse, when his characters walk the line of childlike naiveté and mental imbalance à la “Chuck & Buck” and the recent “Duck Butter.” “Like a Boss,” only the second studio film in Mr. Arteta’s two-decades-plus career, retains this intangible indie/sitcomesque sensibility in spite of the raunchiness promised by his star Tiffany Haddish.

The film seems very much part of Mr. Arteta’s oeuvre, owing to its thematic concern with a possibly dysfunctional relationship tested by the pains of adulting. Lifelong besties and business partners Mia (Ms. Haddish) and Mel (Rose Byrne) exude the immaturity and codependency recognizable in many of Mr. Arteta’s archetypes. But this being a studio film inherently requiring greater suspension of disbelief – for instance, Mia and Mel negotiate an investment deal with beauty industry titan Claire Luna (Salma Hayek) without a single attorney in sight – none of the high jinks strike as odd, a prerequisite for Mr. Arteta’s offbeat style to work.

Claire’s constant pitting of the metrosexual duo, Greg (Ryan Hensen) and Ron (Jimmy O. Yang), against Mia and Mel feels contrived, making it clear that the film’s faults are solidly with screenwriters Sam Pitman and Adam Cole-Kelly rather than the fabulous cast. Perhaps the trailers have been misleading and have unrealistically inflated expectations, since a highlight involving Ms. Hayek accusing Ms. Byrne of touching her “cuca” has inexplicably been excised. This leaves Billy Porter’s “Witness! My! Tragic! Moment!” bit, complete with a diva-like exit and a forlorn parting glance through the window aimed for maximum melodrama, as the movie’s most hilarious scene.


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