Life of the Party‘s attempt to be an entertaining comedy about a down-on-her-luck mother attempting to get her college degree unfortunately falls short. Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone team up to write this head-scratching comedy, missing the mark on the majority of attempted jokes. Pair this with a generic, uninspired, back-to-school story, and we get a Mother’s Day Weekend dud.
Also directed by Falcone, this 105-minute film is full of cringe worthy moments, and it plays out more like a Saturday Night Live sketch that never should have made it past the writer’s room. Barring a couple legitimately funny scenes, Life of the Party is mostly a disappointment.
After being told about an unexpected divorce, Deanna (Melissa McCarthy), tries to make the best out of a terrible situation. With only one year left to complete her college degree, Deanna takes the plunge and rejoins Decatur University, the very same school attended by her daughter, Maddie (Molly Gordon). A few others take a liking to Deanna’s eccentric personality, including Maddie’s friend and sorority sister Helen (Gillian Jacobs). All of the usual college movie tropes ensue, as Deanna goes to parties, meets a boy, and deals with the mean girls on campus.
What makes Life of the Party different from most of the played-out college films is the fact that Deanna is much older than the average student on campus. The film does do a good job at showing the school/life balance of a woman who still has problems to deal with outside of Decatur University. Luckily, her best friend Christine (Maya Rudolph), injects some much-needed relief from the stresses of college and a divorce.
It’s not that McCarthy played her character poorly, she nailed the stereotypical “mom” role. Always smiling, constantly trying to make someone feel better, and truly full of life; Deanna is a mother that everyone of us has met before. The problem here is that there is just not enough content surrounding her character. Her lines mostly fall flat, and the ones that work are ultimately overshadowed by the ones that don’t. Thankfully, Maya Rudolph provides some much-needed comic relief. Her scenes are few and far between, but they usually end with a laugh. Rudolph is no stranger to the genre, and she shows it here. The same cannot be said about Molly Gordon’s performance as Deanna’s daughter, in which her performance suffers from awkward mannerisms and awful delivery.
This film is frustrating, because it has some good pieces that never really get put together. The story is bland, but most comedies don’t boast the best story lines. The biggest problem is that the movie is just not funny, even the biggest McCarthy fans will be disappointed.
Life of the Party is constantly trying to make the audience laugh, but unfortunately most of the jokes don’t even make sense. It’s almost as if half of the film is spent trying to coin new one-liners (vagoogle?), instead of actually developing a comedic situation. As a result, the movie is ultimately a disappointment.