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Film Review

Life of the Party

Directed by Ben Falcone
From: Warner Bros.
Released: 05.11.18
Review by Julian Lytle | May 11, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Basically: Melissa McCarthy is making her version of the classic ‘Back to School’ starring Rodney Dangerfield.

Melissa McCarthy is in pretty rare air. She can write her own ticket and constantly put out comedies like those of many of her male peers—on just her name alone. That brings us to her new movie Life of the Party also starring Maya Rudolph and Gillian Jacobs. The movie has a super simple plot and setup: McCarthy plays Deanna Miles who is a wife, mother, and homemaker whose husband Dan (Matt Walsh) decides to divorce her after they drop off their daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) at college. Completely blindsided and aimless, Deanna decides to go back to college and finish the senior year that she never had because of her husband and daughter. This leads Deanna into a whole bunch of hijinks as a forty-something mother partying with her college-age daughter and friends.

Photo by Hopper Stone SMPSP - © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Gotta be honest, I didn’t expect much from this but it is low-key really funny. Nothing in this movie is new or groundbreaking comedy writing-wise, the thing is the laughs, and the characters, and the setting feel so comfortable. We’ve either seen or experienced what a college campus is like, so we know what type of experiences Deanna is going to have. It also helps that Melissa McCarthy is such a known quantity. You know she’s going to give off a warm feeling along with doing some great slapstick—she’s just as good as Will Ferrell in that department. She’s surrounded by great comedic actors as well and they make what would probably be terrible jokes in another version of this movie funny. Maya Rudolph really hams it up as Deanna’s best friend Christine who’s always quick with barbs for her friend’s ex-husband and his new wife. Speaking of the new wife, Julie Bowen of Modern Family is Marcie and does a lot with very little screen time. Matt Walsh also does well as the terrible selfish Dan.

Photo by Hopper Stone SMPSP - © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Now this movie has problems but they aren’t that important. Things do just happen and a lot of stuff isn’t explained. Like how Deanna is paying for school? Why she’s living in the dorms? How come it seems she only has one class? etc. etc. But you’re not supposed to pull the string here. If you pull the string the whole fantasy will come undone. This is a movie you just sit and watch and enjoy. It’s not even one you need to see in the theaters, you can wait and it’ll still be enjoyable when it’s in constant rotation on TNT or FX every weekend. So that’s it, Life of the Party is superhero movie counter-programming for Mother’s Day weekend that’s totally serviceable and will make you laugh.

In the end: Enjoy it as Melissa McCarthy goes to college, drinks shots, gets glowed up, and does funny things for 100 minutes.

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