Thursday, 13 December, 2018

In 'Life of the Party,' Melissa McCarthy Goes to College

Life of the Party Melissa Mc Carthy makes college fun again in Life of the Party
Herman Weaver | 11 May, 2018, 22:46

The strength of this film doesn't come from one individual performance but the collective efforts of the entire ensemble. As more of them are made, the situations become weirder and weirder. The mother-daughter duo was kidnapped by a drug cartel and had to escape, but, like, in a cute and amusing way, you know? Not knowing what to do with the rest of her life - she prematurely finished her academic career way back when (ironically, to marry Dan) - as she decides to press restart and go back to college.

Melissa McCarthy, center, is the life of the party in a scene from "Life of the Party".

In Life of the Party, McCarthy is Deanna, a homemaker who drops her college senior daughter Maddy (Molly Gordon) off at school.

As Deanna and her husband, Dan, leave campus Dan blurts out that he wants a divorce. I wish McCarthy and Falcone knew that I'm not going to laugh because supporting player Julie Bowen has been sculpted into a young Joan Rivers. Dan also plans to sell their house right away (since the property is in his name), leaving Deanna heartbroken and up the creek without a paddle. "I was like, 'Get out of the way, Jennifer Lopez is coming through'". Also helping matters is the plot's timeliness to Mother's Day this Sunday (reminder, you're welcome). She tries to pick it off, but it doesn't go well.

The star, who was a cheerleader while growing up in IL, also revealed in her interview that she loves a good 99 Cents store, her husband gives her "belly laughs" every day and her kids are now obsessed with slime. Though this part of the plot seems ridiculously improbable, the film does acknowledge that this is not normal, which helps. Beyond the mother-daughter dynamic, there are great elements of female empowerment and standing up for yourself in relationships.

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Few movie stars of the moment are as likable on screen as Melissa McCarthy. They dedicate themselves to the roles so deeply that they do genuinely feel like awkward suburban moms. I'm inclined to think that McCarthy's worst features probably start with the actress formatively exclaiming "take a look at this amusing wig!" while collaborators scramble to parse together a comedy vehicle around it.

The film also captures the essence of being a confused college student.

On top of that, the film's one-note premise - unhappy, unfulfilled mom decides to go back to college - runs out of juice well before the first half-hour is up, and nearly three more of them still are to follow. She goes through a bit of a breakdown when she realizes that her studies in kinesthesiology have in no way prepared her to get a job. The movie certainly doesn't push the envelope as far as it could in this respect, much less dive all that deeply into the questions it raises about how motherhood impacts a person's sense of identity, a la the way last week's Tully does.

There are no recognisable human characters, just thinly etched caricatures, from McCarthy's bag of mom cliches (I lost count of the times her actions were met with "Oh my God, Mom!") to her bitchy antagonist on campus (who is lumped with lazily unfunny putdowns such as: "You're a 1,000 years old"). Its an empowerment story with enough laughs to avoid sappiness.

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