Now here’s the thing. I think Melissa McCarthy is hilarious, in the right context, but she’s also had some pretty major flops. I was definitely curious about this one though, so I was hoping this might be the next big hit for her. So was it?
McCarthy stars as a woman named Deanna, whose daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) is entering her senior year at (the fictional) Decatur University. Well, when things go sideways for Deanna and she finds herself in the midst of a divorce, she decides to re-enroll in school and finish her senior year that she quit many many years ago. What ensues next is a comedy combining McCarthy’s physical comedic chops and a plot resembling that of Old School. We also have Gillian Jacobs (Community), Maya Rudolph, and Chris Parnell.
It is directed by Melissa McCarthy’s husband Ben Falcone, who has also directed Tammy and The Boss, both in collaboration with McCarthy.
If you’re a fan of Melissa McCarthy, you’ll at least have a good time here. Her comedic timing is spot-on and there are plenty of (seemingly) improvised moments that had me laughing. This is a highlight reel for her, playing the mom character and the wild party character, all rolled into one.
There’s also some fun moments with the supporting cast, including some moments from SNL alums Maya Rudolph and Chris Parnell. Current SNL actress Heidi Gardner gets some time to shine, though she’s much funnier here than she’s ever been on SNL.
So if you’re looking for a comedy, I’d say this is a safe bet. If you’re not a fan of McCarthy, this obviously isn’t up your alley, but if you enjoy her at all, this is a good pick.
While some of McCarthy’s supporting cast do their best, some are really inconsistent. Maya Rudolph is really hit or miss here, sometimes cranking the dial and going all out. Gillian Jacobs, known for Community, feels like an afterthought and is the only college student really given any name or attention, at least off the bat. It felt like a rewrite, there’s an obvious introduction scene wedged in and most of her lines feel like an afterthought to take some of the comedic weight off of McCarthy. With that said, some of Jacob’s moments are hilarious, but they still stand out.
The movie overall also feels very… familiar. It feels like moments from other movies glued together, there’s very little unique identity to this film and it left me somewhat apathetic in the end. Maybe I watch too many comedies, so I’m starting to see the “man behind the curtain” so to speak.
So don’t get me wrong, this movie isn’t bad. It’s average. It’s predictable and exactly what you’d expect and most of you expect a night of laughter, so no harm done. But this movie isn’t doing anything revolutionary and out of the ordinary.
Life of the Party is everything Melissa McCarthy does right but it feels incredibly familiar. The pacing is a bit off, some of the support characters miss the mark, and it’s predictable from the opening scene, but that doesn’t stop McCarthy from pulling all the stops and delivering some solid escapism and comedy hijinks. If you just want to laugh, this movie will do the trick, no worries, but it doesn’t deliver anything special or unique beyond that.