Directed by Ben Falcone
Starring – Melissa McCarthy, Molly Gordon, Gillian Jacobs
The Plot – When her husband suddenly dumps her, longtime dedicated housewife Deanna (McCarthy) turns regret into re-set by going back to college, landing in the same class and school as her daughter Maddie (Gordon), who’s not entirely sold on the idea. Plunging headlong into the campus experience, the increasingly outspoken Deanna, now Dee Rock, embraces freedom, fun, and frat boys on her own terms, finding her true self in a senior year no one ever expected.
Rated PG-13 for sexual material, drug content and partying
– Gillian Jacobs is a delightful mystery wrapped inside of an enigma. I couldn’t understand if her character was supposed to be suffering from some kind of mental deficiency, or if she was a psychopathic killer. I found myself transfixed by her strange facial takes, as well as her character’s expressive personality that is unlike anything that I have seen from a female in a comedy in a long time.
– Like the trailer, Maya Rudolph steals the show with her loud and obnoxious presence. That may sound like a negative, but Maya is the only actor here who feels confident in her line reads, never letting the lack of effective humor limit her ability to turn it into comic gold.
– There’s a surprisingly good twist midway through the movie that rivals that of ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ from last year.
– Far too much improv humor. For at least the entirety of the first act, not one scene can play out without McCarthy or an accompanying actress drowning on and on about a line of dialogue that didn’t hit on the first try, so why not beat it into the ground fifty more times?
– Because of what I just mentioned, there’s a limited progression throughout the narrative of this film that exposes just how minimal the abundance of ideas inside truly are. In my opinion, there’s probably twenty minutes of actual credible story here. Everything else is Falcone and McCarthy’s usual underwritten comedy, the same cold material that they’ve given us for over a decade now. It’s not as bad as ‘Tammy’, but it’s right there next to ‘The Boss’ in terms of comic prowess.
– When the humor misfires this frequently, it turns 100 minutes of screen time into what feels like an eternity. Imagine being at a stand-up comedy club and the comedian lands two jokes in two hours of his/her show. That is what ‘Life of the Party’ feels like. If this is a party, it’s the kind that is loud, childish, and asks you to bring your own beverages.
– Unnecessary antagonists that add absolutely zero to the film. Much of the motivation seems to target the ‘Mean Girls’ demographic here, but the lack of influence from two female college snobs leave such a lack of impact that writing them out would be the easiest and most beneficial thing to this screenplay.
– Contradicting character exposition. It’s baffling how truly lazy this script by Falcone actually is. Two such examples involve McCarthy’s character, proof of how little Ben pays attention to even his central protagonist. The first involves a Harry Potter joke that Melissa makes early on in the film, yet is stumped about twenty minutes later when someone else brings up a Potter joke to her. The second (and more perplexing) is how a woman has a fear of speaking in front of people, yet ten minutes prior had no qualms about a dance off in front of strangers where she was the prime focus.
– There’s absolutely no mental conflict to a woman going through a mid-life crisis with such ease. There’s a big missed opportunity not only in the story, but also in Melissa’s performance in drawing out a strong empathetic and inspiring character, instead choosing to sleep with a man less than half her age, vandalize property, and ruin a wedding that she wasn’t invited to. I felt bad for this woman for about ten minutes into this film, and then it went away when I thought about how careless she really is.
– Oh yeah, she does have a daughter. I say that because I honestly forgot about midway through this film. Other than the occasional conversation, there’s never an attempt at bonding this Mother and Daughter together. I mentioned earlier how Jacobs is easily the most interesting character of the youthful cast, and I think the movie realized that as well, pitting her with McCarthy for a majority of the scenes. If you pretend she is Melissa’s daughter, it tends to make more sense.