Life of the Party

  review by Drusilla Blakey

Melissa McCarthy has been missing from the big screen since 2016s Ghostbusters as she has focused on some small screen work including a return to Gilmore Girls and an insanely funny reoccurring turn as Sean Spicer on SNL. Now she is back teaming up again with director of The Boss and Tammy as well as her real life husband Ben Falcone for Life of the Party so-starring Gillian Jacobs, Maya Rudolph, Julie Bowen, Matt Walsh, Molly Gordon, Stephen Root, Jacki Weaver, Jessie Ennis, Adria Arjona, Debby Ryan and Jimmy O. Yang, but does it bring the laughs or should it be expelled?

Life of the Party follows longtime dedicated housewife Deanna (McCarthy) turning regret into re-set by going back to college after her husband suddenly dumps her. Deanna lands in the same class and school as her daughter, who’s not entirely sold on the idea. Plunging headlong into the campus experience, the increasingly outspoken Deanna–now going by Dee Rock–embraces freedom, fun and frat boys on her own terms, finding her true self in a senior year no one ever expected. As a huge fan of Melissa McCarthy, I am always looking forward to her next film so was hoping that this movie would not be a letdown and I must say, that I was not disappointed!  I laughed and laughed so hard during this movie that my sides hurt.

Sure, some of the jokes are just plain silly and every once in a while it may seem a bit ‘too setup’ or forced.  But, overall I found it fresh and funny.  McCarthy’s character is a true ‘duck out of water’ and the laughs come out of her over the top efforts to fit in and find her way. Also the fact that she is returning back to college with her own daughter, creates another layer of laughs that I think many people can relate to (either from the child’s point of view or the parent’s point of view).  Each is sometimes embarrassed or confused by the other and this really does imitate the difficulties that we sometimes have in our own lives with parents and children trying to understand one another.  I think that bringing that to the big screen, in a humorous way, creates some of the funniest moments for the audience.

In addition to McCarthy, her ‘college’ classmates did a great job and were very funny.  One person, who should not be overlooked is Heidi Gardnerwho plays her roommate Leonor.  She plays a very strange character and even though she does not have much dialog, her acting movements are very funny.  Another funny member of the cast is Luke Benward who plays a very funny love interest.  Craziness ensues as a result of his relationship and it creates a lot of funny moments.

Now, one character who did not work for me was Julie Bowen from the hit TV show Modern Family.  She is always funny in that show, but it was odd that her performance in this film was just not hitting any marks.  She was very stiff and uncharacteristically unfunny.  It makes me wonder if she was playing the character in a way that just didn’t translate on screen.  I feel like it was a missed opportunity for us all. I feel that if you are a fan of McCarthy, crazy humor, a fish out of water comedy, or you just like to laugh, then you will like this movie. 

In addition to the film this release includes bonus content including deleted scenes, gag reel, and featurettes that take you behind the scenes and add to the fun of it all. Head back to school and grab your copy of Life of the Party available now on Digital and then on Blu-ray and DVD on August 7th from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

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