A Merely Passing Grade: A Review of Life of the Party


College is a time for young minds to develop. We go to school to learn. We go to school to grow. And let’s face it, we also go to school to party. If you’re thinking, “What better way to celebrate your entire senior year than to complete it alongside your mother”, the new film Life of the Party will give you a taste of what that might look like.

Maddie (Molly Gordon) is a good kid. She’s heading back to college for her senior year and her mom and dad are dropping her off. She’s excited about finishing her degree and Deanna (Melissa McCarthy), her mom, is emotional. Maddie is happy. And Deanna is about to embark on a wonderful Italian vacation with Maddie’s dad Dan (Matt Walsh). Life couldn’t be better for all involved — that is, until Dan drops the bombshell that he wants a divorce. Nope, that vacation
isn’t happening.

Deanna struggles to cope and plays drunk racquetball, burns Dan’s things, and reminisces about her college days that she left behind a year shy of graduation. Her decision seems obvious: go back to school and finish the degree she was so close to completing. Boy, is Maddie in for a surprise when Deanna enrolls at Decatur University, the same school where her daughter is studying.

Deanna is all in for college life. She becomes known as Dee Rock, and after a quick makeover, the college experience is hers for the taking. And that life doesn’t just include books and studying. It includes partying, Maddie’s sorority sisters, more partying, college guys and lots and lots of bad choices.

And hilarity ensues, right?

Yes, there are laughs to be found in this back-to-school relationship comedy. And because there are those moments that tickle the funny bone, it rises above some of McCarthy’s previous summer comedies. But despite her best efforts, along with the best efforts of some very funny costars including Gillian Jacobs (stealing scenes as “coma girl” Helen) and Maya Rudolph, to name a few, a messy plot derails us along the way. I’ve got questions that need essay responses to pass my final exam!

The laughs that do come can’t make up for the lack of character development that just screams for better storytelling.

I wanted to love this film, but ended up just liking it. The soundtrack was fun, the people were funny, but instead of acing my review, Life of the Party merely received a passing grade. Maybe I should have just audited this film.
Paul’s Grade: C+
Life of the Party
Rated PG-13
Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Gillian Jacobs, Debby Ryan
Director: Ben Falcone

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