Life of the Party (2018) Movie Review
Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone
If you *must* take your mother out this Mother’s Day, you could do a lot worse than seeing this weekend’s Life of the Party simply because the movie is genetically engineered to be seen on Mother’s Day as it will soon disappear from theaters to make room for whatever comic book/Star Wars spinoff is opening in the coming weeks.
You can only see Avengers so many times.
Be warned. The movie was directed by her husband Ben Falcone (who co-wrote the movie with McCarthy). He previously directed 2014’s gratingly unfunny Tammy and 2016’s grating but passably funny The Boss and the trailers to LOTP were mild salsa.
Having written that, Life of the Party is the least worst movie from Melissa McCarthy and her husband.
The plot? Stop me if you’ve heard this before because you have in every fish-out-of-water movie ever made.
McCarthy plays Deanna Miles as she and her one-dimensional bad husband Dan (Matt Walsh) drop off their daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) for her Senior year of college. Why Maddie isn’t living on her own in her Senior year is a question left asked for a much better movie. Deanna is super clingy because she never finished college because she was pregnant with Maddie. She’s also dressed in oversized sweaters and giant bows in her hair which should signal to everyone that there’s going to be a makeover in about 20 minutes.
As Dan and Deanna are leaving the college, Dan drops that he wants a divorce as he’s fallen in love with another woman. We did mention earlier that Dan was a one-dimensional and bad, right?
Deanna is predictably devasted and now has no idea what she what to do with her life. As you’ve seen from the best parts of the trailers, she will enroll back in college (the same one as Maddie- wow, there’s a setup for some PG-13 hijinks!!!) and finish her archaeology degree (cue bad archaeology jokes., way more than should be allowed in one movie), and more importantly, learn a little more about herself.
Yes, this reads like a Lifetime movie, but instead of laughing unintentionally, you’ll chuckle to yourself and be pleasantly surprised that this isn’t as bad as you thought.
What Works With Life of the Party
- Community’s Gillian Jacobs steals almost every scene she’s in as Helen the Coma Girl (the film will explain), though you get the feeling a sharper written character would have served the movie better. In retrospect, Helen The Coma Girl might have made a better movie.
- A scene in a restaurant provides the movie’s only real surprise and the movie’s only real laugh-out-loud moment, courtesy of Maya Rudolph.
- Breaking In, the other move opening this week, looks so bad it could have been directed by Tyler Perry. More proof you could do a lot worse than Life.
What Doesn't Work With Life of the Party
- As a performer Melissa McCarthy makes LOTP watchable for most of its running time. But as a writer, she and husband Falcone leave a lot to be desired as entire scenes are underdeveloped (a mediation scene has a lot of jokes that miss and only 1 that really sticks) and overly long scenes that go on way past the joke’s expiration date. Plus, any viewer can time the predictability and based bathroom breaks during the dead spots.
- The last time an extended weed joke was funny, Melissa McCarthy was on Gilmore Girls.
- In regard to 1), the worst scene in the movie involves McCarthy, an in-class speech and flop sweat that just won’t quit. The longer the scene goes on, the less funny in becomes. It’s not painful to watch, but another 15 seconds would have been.
Life of the Party is a genial enough comedy that is nowhere as bad as you think it’s going to be. That is the highest amount of praise this movie deserves.