Life of the Party

(Falcone, 2018)

This review contains spoilers for Life of the Party

The latest film from actor/writer Melissa McCarthy and director Ben Falcone is an uneven romp with a few worthwhile bits and very low stakes. McCarthy and Falcone have achieved something that many thought was impossible— an entire film virtually devoid of conflict.

The premise is simple: what if your mom went to college with you? It’s basically a live-action version of An Extremely Goofy Movie (Melissa McCarthy, of course, being Goofy). While the movie nicely avoids the clichéd “my mom is so embarrassing” conflict, it fails by introducing no overarching conflict at all.

Initially it seems like Deanna’s goal is to find love in the wake of her divorce. However, she immediately begins sleeping with frat boy Jack, someone she seems to genuinely like being with, despite his age. Another conflict emerges towards the end of the movie, when Deanna realizes she can’t afford to finish her last semester of college. But once again, this conflict is resolved in a matter of minutes thanks to a fund-rager and a gratuitous Christina Aguilera cameo. I suppose you could say that Deanna’s goal is to "find herself" and "live her own life," but she does that… for literally the whole movie. Sure, she’s awkward and her ex-husband is an annoying dork, but she seems to be having a damn good time without him!

While there are some truly funny moments in this film (like An Extremely Goofy Movie, much of the humor relies on physical comedy), the lack of conflict makes Life of the Party feel like a 90-minute SNL sketch, and not a very good one. Without Melissa McCarthy’s performance, there would be little to talk about in this review. McCarthy is predictably charming, clumsy and a lot of fun to watch, even if Life of the Party is mostly just clumsy. ★★★

David Merkle