‘Life of the Party’ is the light beer of college movies

Life of the Party (2018)

Directed by Ben Falcone

Last year was the first since 2013 that we didn’t get a full-blown Melissa McCarthy-led movie—if you’re shocked to find out it has been nearly two full years since “Ghostbusters,” join the club. “Life of the Party” is the ideal vehicle for McCarthy’s particular brand of physical humor, if that’s what you’re into. If you liked “The Heat,” “Identity Thief,” “Tammy,” “Spy,” or “The Boss,” you’ll probably have no trouble laughing along with “Life of the Party.” If you were hoping for some sort of risk-taking…well, maybe next year.

Melissa McCarthy in Life of the Party (2018)

After her husband surprises her with a confession and a request for a divorce, Deanna (McCarthy) begins to rethink her life. Her marriage bore a daughter, Maddie (Molly Gordon), sure, but it also saw Deanna drop out of college and give up on her dreams of being an archeologist. Instead of letting the bad hand she’d been dealt get the better of her, she decided to take life by the balls and enroll in her alma mater—the same college her daughter currently attends.

“Life of the Party” is little more than an uplifting story about a woman taking control of her life. There is no real villain, very little internal struggle (there are only a couple of brief moments where she addresses her divorce in any genuine way), and not a lot in the way of plot. It’s not without its moments of slapstick hilarity, but it’s not very funny overall. There really isn’t a lot to sustain a movie for 90 minutes, unless you really like Melissa McCarthy. Because there’s a lot of her. That’s what these movies are all about, all those ones I listed above…they’re all about showcasing Melissa McCarthy and her everywoman shtick. Reviews can’t do this movie any justice…if you’ve seen the other movies, you already know the tone. Normally, side characters are there either to riff with McCarthy or be the butt of her comedy. Gillian Jacobs is the only supporting cast member who has more than one or two decent moments, but even she has been way better. Mostly, it’s The Melissa McCarthy Show. And for a lot of people, that will be enough.


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