May 16, 2018

Life of the Party Review

Melissa McCarthy and party

The biggest release for Mother’s Day 2018 is an erratically funny comedy starring Melissa McCarthy as a woman coping with her recent divorce by going back to school à la Rodney Dangerfield. After dropping off their daughter, Maddy (Molly Gordon), for her senior year of college, McCarthy’s Deanna is dumped by her longtime husband, Dan (Matt Walsh), for a local Realtor (Julie Bowen). College has changed a little bit since Deanna was last in the classroom, but she becomes a hit after her daughter pulls off some teen movie makeover magic. 

Divorce scenes like the movie’s standout mediation sequence, highlighted by Maya Rudolph’s amateur lawyering, hit stronger than others. (Racquetball is an out-of-place non-starter.) The college-life gags are predictable, milking Deanna’s sexual awakening via college hottie Jack (Luke Benward) and a straight-out-of-the-’80s rivalry with an unnecessarily mean girl (Debby Ryan). Luckily, the consistently funny Gillian Jacobs has not graduated from college, “Community” or otherwise; she somehow makes Maddy’s sorority sister who just woke up from a coma work better than that description reads. Eventually, Christina Aguilera shows up for a finale the audience will soon forget. 

Fortunately, most moviegoers will be satisfied by the respectable laughs per minute written by McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, who is also directing his spouse for the third time (remember Tammy and The Boss?).