The Good Boss movie review & film summary (2022)

ytsfreeSeptember 3, 2022

Bardem plays Julio Blanco, the top man at Basculas Blanco, a business dedicated to making industrial scales. When he speaks to his employees in an early scene, he stresses that he sees them as family. And at first glance, he does appear to be a benevolent fatherly figure who is willing to go out of his way to help his “children”—when the son of a longtime employee is arrested for beating up an immigrant in a park, Blanco arranges for the kid to work at the dress store run by his wife, Adela (Sonia Almarcha). However, we soon begin to notice that some of his favors do come with a catch and his interest in the outside lives of some of his employees is a bit overbearing. We also see, from the way that he deals with a pretty intern leaving the firm (with a piece of jewelry as a going-away trinket) that perhaps he favors some of his children in more particular ways than others.

The aforementioned talk with his workers is a rally-the-troops affair for Blanco, who has been shortlisted as one of the three finalists for an award described as “the Oscar of scales.” This may sound tacky to you (if still more prestigious than a Golden Globe) but Blanco is determined to win it at all costs; he’s certain that when the judges visit the factory and see the benevolent brotherhood he has established, the prize will be his. Alas, life can never quite be as precisely calibrated as one of his products and things soon begin to go haywire. A recently fired employee, Jose (Óscar de la Fuente), has staged a protest next door that will be the first thing visitors see when they arrive. Inside the factory, longtime production manager and childhood friend Miralles (Manolo Solo) is so driven to distraction by recent marital issues that he makes a series of expensive errors that threaten the factory’s reputation for efficiency. To make things even more complicated, Blanco finds himself falling into bed with one of the new interns, Lilliana (Almudena Amor), and an activity that he clearly looks upon as nothing more than a personal perk ends up badly backfiring on him.

Marking the third collaboration between de Aranoa and Bardem (whose first project together, 2005’s “Mondays in the Sun,” also dealt with labor relations), “The Good Boss” is a comedy through and through. It’s not a particularly subtle one at that, as the use of scales as a grand metaphor might indicate, and ultimately one too uneven for its own good. Some individual scenes and moments are very funny, but too often de Aranoa’s script is just a little too on-the-nose for its own good, sacrificing the credibility of his message for the sake of easy laughs. 

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