“Life of the Party” is a new movie that relies on the comedy talents of the star, Melissa McCarthy. There is no problem with that, because McCarthy is a totally likable and engaging comic presence. She has the star power and charisma to pull off being a major player when given the right role. That is the biggest problem. Her abilities far overpower the meager gruel that this movie. She tones down her snappy and sarcastic style to play the neutral beige of her character, and jokes fall like gentle snowfall – when she is best suited for a full-scale blizzard of snark.
Deanna Miles (Melissa McCarthy) is dropping her only daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) off at college for her senior year. Little does Deanna know that her husband Dan (Matt Walsh) is dropping Deanna – he wants a divorce from the bland matronly woman that he married. She is broken apart, and she knows she must propel her life in a new direction. She decides to go back and finish college herself. She had dropped out in her senior year to get married and have Maddie. Now it’s her time to shine. Her best friend Christine (Maya Rudolph) gives her the encouragement to get out on her own.
Deanna bring her cheerfulness and Hallmark-card sentimental gooey nature into the college dorms and classrooms and Greek houses. She is a little unusual, and some of the ‘mean girls’ make fun of her gentle and uplifting manners. But she endures, and even Maddie and her friends are brought over her sunny-side-up attitude. She attends the frat parties and becomes the teacher’s pet. She gets something going with a boy toy that is less than half her age. You go girl!
But her divorce proceeding threatens to bring the whole house down around Deanna. She gets a little bent out-of-shape and ruins Dan’s wedding reception. She is close to failing her favorite class and dropping out of school. But her friends that she made in the sorority will help to throw a big bash for cash. And to get everyone to attend and pay the cover charge, they start the rumor that a big celebrity will stop by after her concert. But is all just a lie, or is it? Does her roommate actually have a secret of her own, one that will save the day?
Melissa McCarthy is the main player in this show, but she gets very little in the way of good material to work with. Mostly all the jokes are a variation of ‘Dad jokes’ just told by the Mom. There are a couple of snappy lines here and there, but most of the script seems to have been warmed over like a week-old stew on the low burner. There could have been much more zing in the story line, but Deanna is forced to get by on phrases like “I’m down to clown”. There is hardly any chemistry between the actors and almost no character development.
There is basically not much Life in this Party. It seems too toned-down to have any edge, and all that is left is a frumpy bedazzled sweater of a movie. It may look nice on the rack in the clothes store, but is not the right style that would have you wear it home.