LIFE OF THE PARTY
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Molly Gordon, Maya Rudloph, Gillian Jacobs, Julie Bowen, Matt Walsh, Debby Ryan, Adria Arjona, Jessie Ennis, Stephen Root and Jackie Weaver
Written by Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone
Directed by Ben Falcone
Reviewed by Patrick Gibbs
Out of Four
I consider myself a Melissa McCarthy fan in the sense that I think she's extremely talented and possesses a great deal of charm. I do not consider myself a Melissa McCarthy fan in the sense of genuinely loving any of her films. Truth be told, the number of her films that I genuinely "like" can be counted on hand and still have more than two digits left over.
|Images Courtesty Warner Bros and New Line Cinema|
McCarthy gives a lovable performance, and it is easy to root for her character, even when she's being a bit clueless about how she is effecting her daughter (and one of the weakest elements of the film is the failure to go even as deep as the average episode of Family Ties where Mallory resents Elysse and starts acting out and throws an embarrassing tantrum in public and all is resolved later in the magical kitchen of understanding.). Maya Rudolph gets her share of laughs (most of them cheap) in the one note role of Deanna's best friend, but the breakout performances and funniest characters by far are Gillian Jacobs and Heidi Gardner as Helen and Leonor, respectively. Helen is a sorority sister who started college a bit late because she spent eight years in a coma (when I actually type that out, it doesn't sound funny at all, but Helen's personality, combined with the way she deals with her Internet celebrity status are amusing and endearing.). Leonor is Deana's bizarre goth roommate, who sleeps most of the time and never actually seems to attend class.
|Images Courtesy Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema|
The movie does a fair amount of mileage out of making you hate Deanna's husband/ex-husband, and while elements of that relationship ring uncomfortably true, it's another area that could have been a lot more fleshed out. The character is so cartoonish and devoid of redeeming qualities that his daughter even showing up to his new wedding or inviting him to her graduation seems like a bit of a stretch even if he is her father. Even weaker is McCarthy's fling with a hot young student who becomes enamoured because of her experience in the bedroom (which doesn't really mesh with the rest of the portrayal of the character.). For reasons I won't spoil, this relationship ranks as perhaps the biggest contrivance in a film brimming over with them, and one can't help but feel that McCarthy the writer (and her husband the co-writer/director) owed McCarthy the actress the extra effort to make this a genuinely involving character based story about self discovery (and it has plenty of potential to be one.).
Still, it's fun and funny in its own way, and Life of the Party is really rather a simple decision: if you watch the trailer and think "I've got to see that", then you'll find it worth the price of the ticket. If you feel more like "That's a Redbox night", go with that feeling.
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