Movie Review: Life of the Party Isn’t

Life of the Party
Movie Review: Life of the Party Isn’t
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Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville over 20 years. He is a graduate of Journalism from Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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The raucousness of college has been a staple of comedy movies for decades. Life of the Party, Warner Bros. new entry to this genre, doesn’t lack any partying. Filled with boring scenes and too few jokes, what’s missing is the titular life.

Your enjoyment of watching star Melissa McCarthy’s bright interruption of (hilariously censored) college antics will fluctuate based on two things you may or may not enjoy. The first depends on how much you did or did not enjoy your own college experiences. The second is your tolerance of humorous tones instead of actual jokes.

In this new feature, McCarthy plays mother and wife Deanna, who goes back to finish college after getting divorced by husband Dan (Matt Walsh.) That college, however, is also where Deanna and Dan’s daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) is finishing her senior year. By the end, Deanna and Maddie learn to support each other’s academic success.

At the film’s best, it’s optimistic and tastefully sweet. There isn’t a shred of cruelty or exploitative humour. But at it’s worst, it’s agonizingly slow. There are full scenes that aren’t funny to watch, nor do they develop any story or characters.

McCarthy’s Deanna is the greatest asset by far. This character is stripped of some of her nastier performances like The Boss or Identity Thief. Instead, she has the spunk and misguided cheeriness of her Oscar-nominated turn in Bridesmaids.

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Sadly, the majority of the script is too rigid instead of allowing the comedic cast to improvise and discover its humour. It’s particularly disappointing since McCarthy co-wrote the screenplay with director and her real-life husband Ben Falcone.

The result is more often giddy and a display of happy characters instead of the film actually being funny. The energy and glee are certainly fun and contagious, but it doesn’t amount to anything dramatically satisfying. (The confrontation scene at dinner, however, is an outlying winner that had the audience endlessly laughing.)

What’s more likeable than the script or story is the great mother/daughter dynamic between McCarthy and Gordon. Many of the mother-aged women making the majority of the audience found the pair effortlessly relatable.

So what Life of the Party lacks in consistency and pace it makes up for in goodwill and positivity. It’s hard to dislike an infectiously cheery movie like this. But I also checked my watch on several occasions, often groaning how slowly the film was advancing.

Energy and spritely fun aren’t enough to justify buying a movie ticket. Though it’s a far superior movie than last year’s awful Snatched. And mothers treated to this for Mother’s Day will certainly be pleased.

Life of the Party
1 1/2 out of 4 stars

PG, 1hr 46mins. Comedy.
Directed by Ben Falcone.
Starring Melissa McCarthy, Molly Gordon, Gillian Jacobs, Maya Rudolph, <a href=”http://” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>Luke Benward and Matt Walsh.
Now Playing at Cineplex Winston Churchill and Cineplex Oakville & VIP.

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