Life of What Party?


Life of the Party is another Melissa McCarthy vehicle, and it could have been the worst one of her career. Christian Tesfaye awards 3 out of 10 stars.




Movies draw too attractive a picture of colleges. They are usually depicted as a place for making lifelong friends, academically excelling and lots of partying. This cannot be far from the case in Ethiopia.

Universities are rarely homely. The facilities, especially the dormitories, are consistently lacking. Few get to choose the institutions they go to or the subjects they study; thus one usually meets groups with diverging sets of interests. The partying part is relatively better, but rarely as out of control.

Life of the Party is one of those movies that perpetuate the former stereotype. To make matters more exciting, it throws in a middle-aged, overweight woman that is going through a mid-life crisis.

That woman is Deanna (Melissa McCarthy). On the day her daughter becomes a senior in college, she finds out that her husband wants to divorce her. He has fallen in love with another woman and is selling the house that is in his name. She cries and gets mad, and in the end figures that the best way to turn things around would be to finish her degree in archaeology.

Here is the kicker. Her almost-alma mater is the college that her daughter, Maddie (Molly Gordon), is going to. Strangely, Molly exhibits little of the neurotic tendencies of today’s youth and accepts this wild turn of events as a welcome development as it helps her mom get back on her feet.

There is no perfect movie, but there are too many that have not a single good attribute. This is one of the worst movies I have seen thus far this year. It fails on many levels. It is as if this was not the day job of the filmmakers, but were moonlighting to earn some extra cash on the side.

McCarthy has never made a good movie since Bridesmaid (except perhaps for Identity Thief), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. But I have always liked her performance. She is humble in that she often makes fun of her physical form, unlike most other actresses.

Here though, except for a few and far apart scenes, she fails to deliver. It is one of those characters that are too cheesy and cliché that even actresses better than McCarthy have failed to make relatable. She is overshadowed by a plot that is written to satisfy the lowest denominator and dialogue that adds little but punch lines to the story.

The director is Ben Falcone, who is also married to McCarthy. He has directed her in some of the worst movies of her career. They collaborated first as director and actress on Tammy and then The Boss. Both of these movies are shallow and pretentious. They achieve nothing more than a few laughs and are instantly forgettable. They ought to be put on a pedestal of how not to make a movie.

Life of the Party is all the more a worse movie as it employs brilliant character actors from the television variety show Saturday Night Live (SNL). Maya Rudolf is the real life of the party in the movie, with a great deal of the good jokes going to her. Other SNL alumni also make it into the movie such as Chris Parnell and Heidi Gardner.

What is worst in the movie is that it never succeeds in making the mother-daughter relationship more realistic and less awkward. There are scenes that are painfully uncomfortable to watch as Deanna dances and sleeps with guys half her age and does not mind that her daughter knows all about it, and in some cases can hear it too. How Deanna and her husband break up after over two decades of marriage and lose all respect for each other is just as out of character with reality.

Life of the Party comes squashed between two superheroes movies. One was Avengers: Infinity War, the coming one is Deadpool 2, which, fingers crossed, would help erase the McCarthy fiasco from my mind.



By Christian Tesfaye
Exclusive to Fortune

Published on May 19,2018 [ Vol 19 ,No 942]


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