A movie about going back to school is familiar territory in the film world that has proven to work well before. However, we haven’t really seen it much in a while, so it can feel somewhat fresh while also offering its creators a chance to provide an interesting concept to play with. Those are the good factors in making Life of the Party, but seeing how the people behind it usually do the same style of comedy that’s rarely funny in the first place, my expectations were fairly low from the start.
Melissa McCarthy teams up with her real-life husband Ben Falcone once again to bring us a flick about Deanna (played by McCarthy), a woman who decides to go back to college. This decision was spurred on by her husband deciding to leave her for another woman. In many cases, this could be seen as a good thing since she’s trying to build herself back up, but the potential for complications appear to be overwhelming since her search for new experiences is also taking place at the same school her daughter attends.
Looking at the premise and seeing as how this is McCarthy doing “her thing,” uncomfortable moments for the characters are to be expected. This is a feature that could be seen as appealing to potential viewers, but the execution is mishandled in multiple ways. The most obvious comes from the fact that there is never really any payoff to any of the mishaps that Deanna goes through during her time back in school. She finds herself in plenty of awkward situations of her own doing, but she never pays for them or has anyone stay mad at her for than a split second.
I guess this could take some of the steam out of what people are watching if they desire more from the movies they check out, but it could also be something that they look passed if they are just looking to laugh. In that sense, that’s the only thing that bails Life of the Party out. It’s a comedy, so having a character who is supposed to be so extremely lovable that nothing sticks to her ever may not be that big of a deal to some. As for me, I wouldn’t say it’s a “big deal,” but it’s something that I don’t really like in movies so it stuck out to me a little.
Since that may not matter and people are probably only seeing this for its comedy, it’s more important that they get the jokes right. This isn’t a brilliant piece of work from that standpoint, but I found that Life of the Party may have the ability to make you laugh more than any of Melissa McCarthy’s recent releases. Looking at what came before this had me worried that I was about to watch a movie as bad as something like Tammy. So with that being the case, it’s easy to see why I have a more positive view on this one.
A lot of what’s included is done in the same style as Tammy or The Boss, but it works better this time around than it has in the past for this duo. Unlike previous comedies from McCarthy and Falcone, Life of the Party does contain enough jokes to get some kind of response from viewers. Personally, I only laughed a couple of times while finding a few other pranks and jokes to at least be amusing. This was a pleasant surprise, but it was also a bit disappointing since it made me feel like this missed an opportunity to be more than just another movie from these two.
Throughout its duration, I kept thinking that if the jokes hit better, Life of the Party could have been the kind of movie that had you cracking up the whole time. The characters and the concept are here to accomplish that, but I don’t know if McCarthy and Falcone have the ability to take advantage of those features enough. Because of this, we’re left with a picture that might be watchable to some, but it certainly won’t be considered memorable.
And since the plot here is so straight forward and the story isn’t very deep at all, there’s a lot of room to improvise and test things out. In this genre, that’s usually a good thing since people don’t necessarily require amazing quality to feel satisfied with what’s being given to them. With comedies, all you really need are funny jokes that give the audience a chance to laugh along with what’s going on. If you do that, you’ll have a movie that’s easy to recommend even if they’re not exceptional in other aspects.
Director: Ben Falcone
Film Length: 105 minutes
Release Date: May 11, 2018
Distributor: New Line Cinema
- Score - 4/104/10