Melissa McCarthy is the Charming ‘Life of the Party’

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
No votes yet Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Melissa McCarthy is a comedic force to be reckoned with, able to wring laughs improbably out of the stingiest of material. She always manages to find the funny, which helps elevate everyone around her, and so she slips easily in the durable friendly constructs of the campus comedy in “Life Of The Party.”

Melissa McCarthy Matriculates in ‘Life of the Party’
Photo credit: Warner Bros

McCarthy stars as Deanna, a Mom to a college age daughter, who has an affinity for bedazzled sweaters and a “Mom perm.” When her husband (Matt Walsh) decides he wants a divorce, Deanna decides to go back to school to get the degree she never quite finished. This is a fairly broad premise, complete with frat parties, sorority hazing, and hookups… and of course it has to be the same college her daughter attends. But McCarthy makes a real effort to come to things from a very human place. She’s relatable, and reflects a choice many homemakers had to make when they wanted to set off on their adult lives and family life got in the way of their dreams.

McCarthy has impeccable comic timing, and it also helps that she has a supporting cast full of endearingly odd ringers, such as Maya Rudolph as her best friend and Gillian Jacobs as a sorority girl who spent 8 years in a coma. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, so we get the requisite mommy-makeover scene, and McCarthy gets to be a subject of MILF-level desire from a frat brother of her daughter’s boyfriend. But the scenes are handled just the right way to be both sweet and amusing. I even enjoyed her shared love of pun based humor in archeology class with a bow tied professor (Chris Parnell).

However, the moments when the film gets extra broad is when it falters. A scene where McCarthy appears to have a panic attack while giving an oral presentation is meant to be an over the top escalation, but it just seems to go on forever. And the requisite let’s-get-stoned sequence – involving McCarthy and the sorority sisters unknowingly binging on weed infused chocolate – just kind of lays there lifelessly.

Melissa McCarthy Makes a Point in ‘Life of the Party’
Photo credit: Warner Bros

McCarthy’s collaborations with husband and director Ben Falcone have not been her strongest work. “Life of the Party” is their third film with Falcone in the director’s chair, and is the most consistently funny to date. She managed to wring a few laughs out of their previous effort, “The Boss,” which I thought was something of a minor miracle, but in this film they score a lot more hits this time around. This is an appealing and amiable throwback that gives McCarthy a funny “Back to School” vehicle all her own.

”Life of the Party” opens nationwide on May 11th. Featuring Melissa McCarthy, Gillian Jacobs, Debby Ryan, Julie Bowen, Stephen Root, Maya Rudolph, Christina Aguilera, Chris Parnell and Matt Walsh. Written by Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy. Directed by Ben Falcone. Rated “PG-13” contributor Spike Walters


© 2018 Spike Walters,

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing


  • It's NOT ALL About You John Michael

    CHICAGO – John Michael epitomizes the art of the monologue. The Chicago transplant, by way of Dallas, is moving on (he says temporarily) from the city that inspired his last show, “Meatball Seance,” after notorious and successful runs of his other one-man shows, “John Michael and the Order of the Penix” and “Dementia Me.” His farewell performance is his latest, another laugh riot, “It’s NOT ALL About You John Michael,” and will take place at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on March 1st, 2019. Click here for details, including ticket information.

  • Soccer Player in the Closet, The 2

    CHICAGO – Connecting to the theater collective Nothing Without a Company means a couple of things. One, you may visit parts of Chicago you’ve never seen before – in this case a plant store in an industrial area south of Humboldt Park – and two, you will see some daring and outside-the-box stagings. “The Soccer Player in the Closet” is their latest production – a World Premiere – and it provides what the title implies and beyond. The play runs through March 17th, 2019. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Advertisement on Twitter

archive Top Ten Discussions