"The Boss” stars Melissa McCarthy as Michelle Darnell. The character is a business titan who is thrown in jail for a white collar crime. When Darnell is released, she moves in with her former assistant, played by Kristen Bell, and they both start a business selling girl scout brownies. It’s basically like the movie “Troop Beverly Hills” — if it were rated R.
“The Boss” was co-written and directed by Ben Falcone. He’s also an actor who you may remember as the federal air marshal in the hit comedy, “Bridesmaids," which featured McCarthy. Falcone spends a lot of time with the actress — they're married, and he directed her in the movie, “Tammy,” two years ago.
The Frame's John Horn spoke with Falcone about his relationship with his wife, both on- and off-screen, how he handled working with children during the gang fight scene, and why his kids aren't allowed to see this movie even though they're in it.
You and Melissa McCarthy got married in early 2000's, but I wanted to know what your careers and relationship were like back then.
She was on a show and I was stopping by her house and hoping that she had sandwiches.
That's the foundation of every good marriage, right?
Yeah, right. She was nice enough to pretend that I was not there.
So is the payback that in every movie in which you guys are opposite each other, she gets to do something horrible to you? Like in this movie, hit you in the throat with a tennis ball.
I'll tell you this, I keep thinking that it's something that just keeps our marriage together cause she does enjoy hurting me on film. She really loves it. And then she comes home and she's just a delight. She's the nicest person I know.
Well you have something to do with this because you did co-write and direct "The Boss."
Yeah, you know what, she'll suggest something and it involves me getting physically damaged, but it's also very funny.
I want to talk about a specific scene in "The Boss" where it involves a pretty violent fight with a bunch of children involved. I mean, kids are getting clotheslined. When you shoot a scene like that and test it on audiences, what do you learn and why is that kind of framework to that scene important to the story?
Well, you know, Melissa pitched that and she said, "What if there's like a gang fight?" Because we felt like we needed a moment where [her character] Michelle Darnell gets kind of a win. Oddly, we wanted a scene where Michelle is bonding with Rachel -- the kid in the movie -- and then Melissa [says], "What if there's a giant 'Gangs of New York'-style gang fight with the kids?"
But we had those questions from everybody like, Could we do it? Should we try? So I shot it where there were violent things that happen, but it's clearly tongue-and-cheek and it's a movie. Then we tested that part really extensively, and the first time we tested it, I thought, Oh, man. We've gone too far. People aren't gonna go for this. We're gonna get a bunch of comments. What we found out is that we [hadn't] gone far enough.
Yeah, so I had a bunch more stuff. One of the things that I tried to make sure as I was watching it was that Helen — the leader of the Dandelions, played by Annie Mumolo — is the instigator. She has to strike first so that our Darnell's Darlings are the good kids standing up for themselves against the evil bullies, rather than Michelle and the kids roughing everybody up.
But it's not just the physical violence that makes this comedy unique, it's the kinds of things your wife's character says to other kids in terms of their appearance, like calling one of the girls a lesbian. What are the conversations you have with the young actors and their parents about the tone of the comedy that will be directed at these children?
Well, we found that the kids were actually like, We get it. Because we would be like, Guys, this is obviously just a movie. We want you to know that we respect everyone and we're sorry that we're doing... And they would be like, No, it's funny! Let's just do it!
You have young children. This is a R-rated film. Have your kids seen the movies that you've directed, like "Tammy"? And would they see "The Boss"?
No. Well they're eight and six and I'm hoping that they never, ever see "Bridesmaids." I'm wondering if there's a way that they'll just miss that one.
That's gotta be a little disappointing —you go off and spend a half of a year of your lives, if not more, and it's this thing that exists out there and your kids are like, Can't we see it? And you're like, No.
Well, eventually we really want to do something that they can see, because that would be really fun and they're actively campaigning.
Do you think that's in your DNA? Do you think you're able to make a kid's film?
For sure. It would be a blast, Things are such a product of timing, like, What are you excited about, What is the studio excited about right now? And the things that we've done so far have been rated R. Melissa wants to do a thriller and she's such a good actor, she can do anything. I want to do, I don't know, a fun mystical Christmas movie.
"The Boss" is currently in theaters.