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Life of the Party

Coming Soon


Starring: , ,

I’m not going to say Life of the Party (2018) isn’t funny, because it is. There were parts that were clever and cute and you certainly won’t leave feeling like you didn’t have a lovely time.

Deanna is like moms I knew 30 years ago – our mom’s moms who once wore beehives and cats-eye lenses and house dresses and said groovy a lot. They were perky and upbeat because that’s what ladies – even fun-loving ladies did in the face of literally everything. Deanna is very perky. These are not moms *my* age, and that’s only one of a few small problems with this movie.

Deanna (Melissa McCarthy) is blindsided when her husband (Matt Walsh) divorces her. Realizing she has nothing that wasn’t in her husband name and she’d devoted her entire life to being a good wife and mother, she decides to finish her archeology degree. Because if you’re going to be homeless after your husband puts you out of your family home, at least you have your archeology degree to hang in your cardboard box, am I right?

Cheered on by her best friend and high functioning alcoholic, Christine (Maya Rudolph), she embraces the college life at a pace few of us survived in our 20s. She parties, attends exactly one class, is a general pariah because of her age (her hair, her clothes), and is picked on by mean girls who only exist in this film to be mean (but only kinda mean). All the while she’s mom to her daughter (and her daughter’s friends) and she finds lust with a boy more than half her age and overdoes it in lots of different scenes.

Like most Melissa McCarthy movies, there’s no real story, just lots of vignettes strung together with a common theme. In this case, it was a tame version of Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School (1986), except instead of a rich businessman showing his son that school is cool, it’s a very recently divorces woman who decides to reclaim her lost ambition by completing her final year of college with her daughter.

We’ll set aside that speed at which she was able to enroll as a graduating senior with credit hours that were over 20 years old.

We’ll set aside the fact that she and her daughter live on campus and she’s less than 20 minutes from her own parents’ home. Weird roommate (Heidi Gardner) aside, I remember dorm life and it was never that serene.

Let’s not talk about the complete emotional detachment Maddie (Molly Gordon) experiences when her mom announces the pending divorce. They never really talk about it, but she must be just fine because she stands up in her dad’s wedding, right? In fact, nearly everyone is at her ex-husband’s wedding, except Deanna, and that’s not funny.

Life of the Party isn’t solid and the different scenes could make a complete movie, but they don’t. Even if you’re wearing the same outfit in every scene and on essentially the same set, themed sketch comedy bits still aren’t a movie. It only makes sense as a movie because these sketches are running in a linear fashion.

A woman going back to college to enjoy life is a plot, but it’s not the story, and plot points are not a complete movie.

That’s a little thing writers learn.

This movie is all sorts of problematic because in the course of making a light-hearted movie, McCarthy and co-writer/Director Ben Falcone pole vault over anything that could be considered a downer, like the mean girls, like potential homelessness, like everyone family and mutual friends celebrating her ex’s new life. Can a smile and a be-dazzler gun make everything better? The answer is no, but that doesn’t stop these two from churning out the same basic movie every time. Woman out-of-step manages to not kill herself and everyone around her because she doesn’t get how life works, but then she does and *catchphrase* and *cue upbeat 80’s Lite Rock over zany photo montage*. 

And maybe you’re into that.

Maybe you need some light fare for Mothers Day Weekend and just want to sit back and laugh a few times at a middle-aged woman who’s nothing like you, doing things you have more sense than to do, and still manage to sorta succeed in life because at least the movie ended and no one died, right? It’s a lot of fluff. A lot.

Here’s the deal – I’m 45, roughly the same age as Deanna. Granted, I’ve never been a mom but I have lots of friends who are moms. I even have older friends who are moms and dads, but this wasn’t relatable to me on any level, but maybe it will be for you. When people ask me, “how was Life of the Party?” I say “it was a Melissa McCarthy movie” and they nod in understanding. I wasn’t expecting Kant but with the amount of life change happening ion a compressed amount of time, this was to a little light on everything – including emotions. You’ve gone to keggers and had conversations about traffic lights deeper than this movie.

Go in expecting nothing more, and you’ll have a pretty good time.

Life of the Party is rated PG-13 for excessive drinking, pot-laced chocolate, mocking of the slow, recently, hair, age, and the comatose, off-camera sex, and wanton destruction of someone’s wedding day.

Life of the Party is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

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