Life of the Party

Ok, so this is not a good film, but you will find yourself laughing. Probably often. Which, when you really think about it, is all you can hope for from a film like this. The jokes, pratfalls and sight gags come fast and furious here as is typical in Melissa McCarthy films. The story is threadbare with the entire raison d’etre of the film being to give McCarthy the opportunity to unleash her brand of comedy. Bottom line is that there are worse ways to spend your money and time as long as you go in willing to shut your brain off and just laugh.

Working with McCarthy is her husband and writer/director of several of her films, Ben Falcone (The Boss, Tammy) and he just kind of stays out of his wife’s way. Letting her do her thing. And boy, does she! They don’t allow themselves to get bogged down trying to tell a complex story. Rather it is set up more like a series of skits that involve a girl fight, a middle aged woman hooking up with a guy half her age in the library, a make over, and, of course, an 80s party.

Deanna’s (Melissa McCarthy – from television’s Gilmore Girls) entire life is built around being a wife and mother. After dropping off the apple of her eye, Maddie (Molly Gordon – from television’s Animal Kingdom), off for her senior year at Decatur University, Deanna is looking forward to a long time coming vacation in Italy with husband Dan (Matt Walsh – from television’s Veep). Her happiness is shot down while driving away from the drop off Dan springs on her that he wants a divorce, has fallen in love with another woman and is selling the house.

Without a job or any real future plans to turn to, Deanna decides to return to college to finish off the last year of her degree in archaeology. The only snafu is that she and Maddie will be attending the same school. That will take some getting used to on the part of Maddie. For Deanna she takes to being back in school like a fish to water. It is going to be quite a senior year!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that belter Christina Aguilera has a fun cameo and that Maya Rudolph is so talented that she makes tired lines funny. Aguilera plays herself (of course!) while Rudolph (Brides Maids, Sisters) takes on the gig of the best friend. Nothing she has been given to say is especially remarkable and yet you will find her delightful.

Really the only way this film is going to be likable is based on the sheer likability of the lead actress. Even with her you won’t get any belly laughs here, just a series of chuckles. Enough, though, that you won’t find your mind wandering to the latest episode of The Handmaid’s Tale.

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