Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Molly Gordon, Gillian Jacobs, Maya Rudolph
Director: Ben Falcone
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: When her husband suddenly dumps her, longtime dedicated housewife Deanna (McCarthy) turns regret into re-set by going back to college…landing 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 Dee Rock-embraces freedom, fun and frat boys on her own terms, finding her true self in a senior year no one ever expected.
If you can imagine what the entire plot of a movie is before you see it, it probably is not a very good movie. Life of the Party not only fits that description, but relies on it to move the plot along. Going in, I thought this is exactly what the movie would be: Woman gets dumped, woman goes back to college, the daughter objects, woman cannot adapt to college, woman learns to adapt in college, some sort of conflict arises, conflict resolves with a happy conclusion and we have some laughs along the way. And in true clichéd fashion, that is almost exactly what happen in Life of the Party. While supporting actors like Rudolph are funny in their roles, for the most part Life of the Party is a mediocre carbon copy of countless movies we have seen before.
The film centers around Deanna (McCarthy) a recently divorced woman who goes back to college to finally finish her degree. This causes a problem as her daughter Maddie (Gordon), is currently enrolled at the university and does not want her mom attending the same school as her for obvious social reasons. As time goes on, Deanna has to navigate the difficult college environment and the new challenges that being back in college brings to her. Regarding the actual comedy of the film, the only person who crushes every scene they are in is Christine (Rudolph). Rudolph has such a knack for reading the situation and consistently deliver classic lines which brings so much life to a film that is severely lacking it. Outside of Rudolph, most of the comedy either falls flat or got a small chuckle out of me. There is one scene in particular though when the older characters are at dinner together that is legitimately funny, but outside of that nothing lives up to our expectations. In regards to the story, I understand that Hollywood is lazy and they want to profit off of ideas that they know will work, but specifically the ending made me scratch my head and ask, “why?” A plan is hatched to help Deanna solve a serious issue, and we all know that as soon as the plan is brought up that a giant deus ex machina would be the only way for them to succeed. And without fail, that is exactly what happens. The one in a million chance that something goes the exactly way it needs to go for them to succeed happens and everyone is happy. I have talked about this many times before, but keeping a sense of belief for a movie happens when the plot and obstacles seem like they could happen in our universe or the movie’s universe. There is no chance this ending would happen in real life and it really sours an otherwise pedestrian movie. In other parts of the story, the film endorses a moral message that is completely unacceptable. Deanna and many others characters believe that if I dislike someone personally or they have done me wrong, I have the right to destroy their belongings. Deanna should not be in college, she should be in jail after what she does to her to her ex-husband. If this is what your film has to result to for getting laughs, then you are probably doing something wrong in the first place.
Overall, we all knew what this was going to be without seeing it and it is as mediocre as many people predicted. The only reason I am not rating it lower is because I enjoy Maya Rudolph’s performance too much to give Life of the Party a really poor score. This is Ben Falcone’s third movie where he directed with his wife Melissa McCarthy, and the other two, Tammy and The Boss fared about as well as Life of the Party. If the movies you are associated with are constantly mediocre, then maybe the movie is not the problem.
Overall Score: 4/10