In Life of the Party, Melissa McCarthy plays Deanna, a happily married wife and proud mother of her daughter, Maddie (Molly Gordon). Everything was going according to plan until one day when dropping Maddie off to her senior year of college, her husband Dan (Matt Walsh) tells her he wants a divorce and is seeing someone else. Shocked and stunned by the news, Deanna doesn’t know what to do or where to go next. At what appears to be a crossroads, she decides that she should go back to college and finish her final year. Hilarity and antics ensue as Deanna enrolls in Maddie’s college, moves into the dorms, befriends Maddie’s sorority sisters, and begins her senior year once again.
The female-dominated cast works so perfectly in the film. The characters are so real and so relatable which is rare to find in a film set in college. Melissa McCarthy plays the perfect awkward mom who is totally out of place in college. Heidi Gardner as her roommate is a highlight of the film. The interactions between Leonor and Deanna are so hysterical. Gillian Jacobs and Melissa McCarthy work really well to balance out each other’s very different type of comedy. While Melissa is great with loud, awkward, and sometimes very physical comedy, Gillian compliments her with awkward dry humor with a lot of moments relying on facial expressions. Melissa and Maya Rudolph have incredible chemistry together. As best friends, they provide some of the funniest moments in the entire film. Taking a bit of an unusual path with the romantic aspect of the story, we see Deanna get very close with someone, and there are a few unexpected things that are a result of that. I won’t get into much more about it, but it is the BEST scene in the entire film. By not focusing as much on the romantic relationship, we can get a genuine and funny comedy featuring females lifting each other up and not so much focused on sex, drinking, or partying.
Between the chemistry of the characters, their comedic timing and the magnificently written film, Life of the Party provides some hilarious scenes which left me in tears. Melissa McCarthy is the master of creating and delivering those one-liners that are so on point and witty. In one scene she is searching for what to do with her life and says “oh, God! I don’t want to start a blog!” Her delivery and sincerity in the line really bring the desperation and humor out of the situation. As I said Leonor and Deanna have some great moments in the film where Melissa gets to use those one-liners where she refers to Leonor as giving a very “Voldemort vibe.”
As spectacularly funny as Life of the Party is, it is slow to start in the first twenty or so minutes of the film. I had a genuine concern about how much I would laugh at and enjoy the film. Don’t worry; it makes up for it in the rest of the film. Another issue I had with the film was Maddie’s character. While I feel that all the other girls in the story and the sorority had their chance to shine, either comedically or in their character development, while Maddie was left with the least amount of laughs and the least relatable story. The ending is a little too cookie cutter in a way, but I wasn’t expecting something on the level of Gone Girl, but it did feel a bit formulaic.
Life of the Party is an entertaining and uproarious film which highlights the talent and comic genius that is Melissa McCarthy. Each year, she gets better and better, and Life of the Party proves that. The female-dominated cast provides big laughs that will have you on the verge of tears. Life of the Party is the comedy event of the season and is a must-see!