Life of the Party
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Gillian Jacobs, Maya Rudolph, Adria Arjona, Luke Benward, Julie Bowen, Chris Parnell, Jacki Weaver
This marks the fourth film wife and husband team Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone have collaborated on. “Life of the Party” is a step above “Tammy” and “The Boss” (both were directed by Falcone). However, McCarthy’s continued reach for duplicating the success of Bridesmaids falls short. McCarthy and Falcone’s script here regurgitates shtick from “back to school” comedies “Never Been Kissed”, “The House Bunny” or “Legally Blond”. The entire running time consists of the Oscar nominated comedian delivering familiar jokes and slapstick humor. Ironically, it’s former SNL cast member Maya Rudolph, in a supporting role, who brings us the closest to laugh out loud humor.
Deanna (McCarthy) is a loving mom, dropping her daughter off at college for senior year. The tears of joy turn to anger when her husband of 22 years (Matt Walsh) ends the occasion with a divorce bomb before leaving the campus. Deanna gave up her education when she and Dan got pregnant with Maddie (Molly Gordon), now in the wake of divorce she enrolls in the same university as her daughter to finish that archeology degree. Dressed like Mrs. Claus attending a 1970’s pep rally, Deanna doesn’t quite fit in with a new generation of students. The newly single mom finds comradery with her daughter’s sorority sisters. Teaches the impressionable girls what’s truly important in life, while they allow her to regain the fun missed out on in college.
Recycled jokes and gags will annoy audiences who keep hoping McCarthy will veer into unfamiliar territory.
The script gender flips stereotypes normally seen in these types of comedies, but these changes work like a whisper as not to interfere with the fun if you can call it that. Deanna hooks up with a much younger guy, penis jokes are re-written as vagina jokes, and having everything ride on an underlying love story isn’t in the cards. McCarthy’s character only prat-falls a total of four times in the film, which might be a record when you consider her previous endeavors. Rudolph (“Away We Go”) in a small role as the jealous best friend, initiates some of her best quirks during scenes that need a boost. Maybe it’s not even that Rudolph is funnier than McCarthy, but she is a welcome break from a script that has our lead actress talking non-stop.
“Life of the Party” brings the familiar comedy back to the audiences who have always found her funny. Recycled jokes and gags will annoy audiences who keep hoping McCarthy will veer into unfamiliar territory. “Modern Family” star Julie Bowen brings small screen antics and behavior to this film. A scene of her nearly cracking up at McCarthy is left in the film, either the editor missed it, or Bowen just can’t stay in character. Oscar nominated Jacki Weaver (“Silver Linings Playbook”) is wasted yet again in a silly mom role. McCarthy doing PG-13 comedy at least makes room for some sort of encouraging message, where her past R-rated films are all about vulgarity.
More of the same McCarthyism style comedy with little originality.