Bardem plays Julio Blanco, the best man of Basculas Blanco, a company dedicated to manufacturing industrial scales. When talking to his employees in an early scene, he emphasizes that he considers them family. And on the face of it, he appears to be a caring father figure who’s willing to do whatever he can to help his ‘kids’ – when a longtime employee’s son is arrested for beating an immigrant in a park, Blanco organizes for the child to work in the clothing store run by his wife, Adela (Sonia Almarcha). However, we soon start to notice that some of his favors come with a catch and his interest in the outer lives of some of his employees is a bit overbearing. We also see, from the way he treats a pretty trainee leaving the company (with a jewel as a starting trinket), that he may favor some of his children in a more particular way than others.
The aforementioned interview with his workers is a muster affair for Blanco, who has been shortlisted as one of three finalists for an award described as the ‘Oscar of Scales’. It may sound corny (if it’s even more prestigious than a Golden Globe) but Blanco is determined to win it at all costs; he is 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 be as precisely calibrated as one of its products and things soon start to go haywire. A recently fired employee, Jose (Óscar de la Fuente), has organized a protest next door that will be the first thing visitors see upon arrival. Inside the factory, longtime production manager and childhood friend Miralles (Manolo Solo) is so distracted by recent marital troubles that he makes a series of costly mistakes that threaten the reputation of plant efficiency. To make matters even more complicated, Blanco finds himself in bed with one of the new interns, Lilliana (Almudena Amor), and an activity he clearly sees as nothing more than personal benefit ends up 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 comedy through and through. It’s not particularly subtle at that, as the use of scales as a grand metaphor might indicate, and ultimately too uneven for its own good. Some scenes and individual moments are seriously funny, but all too often de Aranoa’s script is just a little too over the nose for its own good, sacrificing the credibility of its message in favor of easy laughs.