Movie Review: Life of the Party (2018)
For this Mother’s Day weekend, one of the new theatrical releases was Melissa McCarthy’s Life of the Party. The movie was written by McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, and also directed by Falcone. The film follows a woman named Deanna who finds herself returning to the same college as her daughter after her unexpected divorce. The film stars Melissa McCarthy as Deanna and Molly Gordon as her daughter, Maddie. The supporting casts also includes Gillian Jacobs, Maya Rudolph, Julie Bowen, Matt Walsh, Adria Arjona, Jessie Ennis, and Luke Benward.
The movie begins with Deanna and her husband, Dan, dropping off their daughter for her senior year of college. Deanna is emotional about her daughter returning to college one last time while Dan is ready to leave. Maddie encourages them to enjoy their upcoming trip to Italy before saying goodbye. Once they are back in the car, though, Dan admits to Deanna that he’s in love with someone else and wants a divorce. This leads Deanna to go to her parent’s house for solace, where she is reminded that she never finished her degree because of Dan. When Dan decides to sell the house, Deanna decides to go back to college and move into a dorm, much to her daughter’s dismay.
So, while the concept for Life of the Party is charming and inherently comical, this movie was not nearly as funny as I had hoped. It has its moments where it is truly hilarious, and I think the comment about Harrison Ford in the movie is one of my favorite lines. However, this film failed to keep me laughing consistently. While Melissa McCarthy is funny and has some great moments, she never fully gets to shine in this role. In fact, the person who stole pretty much every scene is Maya Rudolph. She is not a major character in the film, yet every time she was on screen her quirky, ridiculous character took the main stage. Molly Gordon gave a decent performance as Maddie, but I honestly thought the mother/daughter connection was lacking between her and McCarthy. On a positive note, though, I think this was one of Ben Falcone’s best cameos as Deanna’s Uber driver.
The comedy was definitely a hit or miss for me, and unfortunately, the story itself is also a bit of a mess. It is a classic fish out of water scenario for Deanna as she delves back into the college world and atmosphere; however, she doesn’t really seem to have any adversity in the film. Sure, she has some issues with her husband and his new girlfriend, but outside of that, there does not seem to be a lot of obstacles for Deanna to overcome. Her daughter seems to get over her Mom being at the same school as her pretty quickly, and she seems to enjoy the one class we see her take. She has one “enemy” from a girl in her archaeological class, but she never really poses a threat to Deanna’s journey. The film pretty much focuses on Deanna’s time partying with her cohorts, and while these are fun sequences to watch, I don’t feel like these characters are very well developed.
Overall, I found Life of the Party to just be a middling comedy. There were moments it made me laugh, but overall, the story just seems to falter. I will credit the film with having a little twist toward the end, which I felt like added something beneficial to the dynamics between the characters; however, it was not enough to save the movie. This is not Melissa McCarthy’s greatest role, but as always, she manages to infuse her charisma into an otherwise ordinary film. I cannot bring myself to recommend watching this one in the theater, but I guess that Life of the Party would be a decent Redbox rental in the future.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.