Oh my god… a Melissa McCarthy comedy. Only about a million things could go wrong.
The story looks like it’s about a mother who goes through a divorce after her husband leaves her for another, and decides that she wants to go back to college to get her degree. Antics ensue.
Here’s the cast. Starring and co-writing is, no duh, Melissa McCarthy, known for GHOSTBUSTERS (2016), SPY (2015), and upcoming films CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (2018) and THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS (2018), and writing both THE BOSS (2016) and TAMMY (2014). In support, we have Molly Gordon (1 episode of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK [2013 – ongoing]), Maya Rudolph (THE NUTJOB 2 , POPSTAR , SISTERS , and the upcoming HAPPYTIME MURDERS), Gillian Jacobs (LEMON , DEAN , DON’T THINK TWICE , and the upcoming IBIZA ), Julie Bowen (HAPPY GILMORE  and TV show MODERN FAMILY [2009 – ongoing]), and Jacki Weaver (THE DISASTER ARTIST  and EQUALS ).
Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing with McCarthy is Ben Falcone, known for CHIPS (2017), OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY (2016), and SPY. Composing the score is Fill Eisler, known for PROUD MARY (2018), TO THE BONE (2017), and HOW TO BE SINGLE (2016). The cinematographer is Julio Macat, known for DADDY’S HOME 2 (2017), MIDDLE SCHOOL (2016), and DADDY’S HOME (2015). Finally, the editor is Brian Scott Olds, known for CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE (2016).
Just… just tell me it’s better than THE BOSS… or, I guess I’ll even take better than TAMMY! Just tell me it’s better than these! Please! Man, I want to like McCarthy’s work. She seems like such a chill and charismatic person, and it’s not like she hasn’t been funny before, so what’s up with her choices in movies?! She just doesn’t have that BRIDESMAIDS (2011) magic in her other ventures, which blows the big one. I don’t even dislike the rest of the talent. Jacobs is a solid actress from what little I’ve seen, Bowen is a 90’s crush for me, and Rudolph is… well, she’s a hit and miss, but like McCarthy, I like her as a person. All I want is something that isn’t a trainwreck, but… no, I think it’s going to be pretty bad, and only okay at best. Why? It’s a comedy about a older woman going back to college. This is a story that’s been done to death and what should be expected? Middle-aged woman around young people jokes. Age gap dating and sex jokes. What else? Unfunny drinking humor, pot humor, you know at some point someone is going to say something hurtful to McCarthy’s character toward the second act that is going to make her second guess being in college, only for someone to tell her that it’s what she wants for herself and then kick serious ass in the third act. Christ, please tell me I’m wrong! I need to know that I’m wrong!
This is my honest opinion of: LIFE OF THE PARTY
Deanna Miles (Melissa McCarthy) is a loving mother to her college daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) and a loving wife to her husband Dan (Matt Walsh). However, the feeling isn’t mutual. Dan wants to divorce Deanna for another woman, Marcie (Julie Bowen). Despite her devastation, she decides that she would like to return to college, alongside her daughter, to get her degree.
Oh my god, it’s so bad. It’s so infuriatingly bad. I almost walked out. I came THIS close to walking out of the theater. My ears are bleeding. My knuckles are bleeding from all the holes I punched in the walls. I never punched holes in my walls because I got nearly no muscle and my bones are likely more brittle than wet tissue, but that’s all beside the point. @#$% THIS MOVIE!!!
Let’s start off incredibly easy. I have no idea what the hell this setting is. Yes yes, it’s supposed to be college. But here’s the thing, the reactions you get out of these characters is more akin to a set of parents seeing their kids off to their first day of kindergarten. Fine, if the movie wanted to do the cliche of the parents seeing their freshman college student off, then… I could have swallowed that. But the writing for this scene is spectacularly confusing. First off, Debbie isn’t a freshman student. She’s a senior. Yet, Deanna is weeping at the sight of her child going to her first day of school. And they do that thing where she says, “I’m only twenty-five minutes away.” Is this a conversation they always have? Seriously, @#$% off with your tropes, movie.
But if that was the worst that this movie offered, I would call this movie a modern comedy classic. That is not what I am about to say because this movie is primed and ready for, not even the discount bin at your local Wal-Mart, but rather more illustrious and sought-after garbage bin.
I know I’ve already said this before, but I feel compelled to say it again because I really don’t want there to be any misunderstandings. I have NOTHING against Melissa McCarthy herself. She seems like a really kind, really chill kind of gal. The kind of celebrity that is happy to meet fans, take selfies, sign autographs, and can be a really be someone you’d love to sit down and get to know, be it on an intimate or casual level. Doesn’t matter, because she just seems like that awesome of a person.
With that said, DEANNA IS @#$%ING ANNOYING!!! She doesn’t shut the @#$% up. Like, at all! Throughout the entire movie! It’s like everyone took notes from FELIX THE CAT (1988) and thought that if the audience got a moment of silence, they’d lose the audience’s attention span, so in order to compensate, they needed to make sure that Deanna kept talking as much as possible. Talk about anything. Anything at all. Even if it wasn’t funny. Because, you know, that’s how comedy works! Just keep rambling nonsense and the crowd is sure to laugh. Guys, the more I’m thinking about Deanna, the more I regret ordering this double Jack and Coke, instead of the more rational quadruple Jack and Coke. I don’t even think that would have solved the problem. But I’m not kidding, she never shuts up. Every scene she’s in, she has to ramble and trail off in her sentences, as if that’s comedy gold. This would be fine if, you know, other bad comedies didn’t do this as well, but that’s McCarthy’s entire performance! She goes to a party full of college students and is all like, “Oh my god, look how young they are.” Um… excuse me? She has a young roommate, a daughter with young sorority sisters, classes with younger students, and she goes to a college party and only now comments on the youth of the college kids?! Blow me!
Get this, Deanna has a fear of public speaking. I know that public speaking is the number one fear and all, but for a woman who does nothing but talk throughout the movie, do an audience of all kinds, no less, this seems particularly odd for her character. And they don’t even just do a standard, “freeze and be awkward” type of deal. No, they go full force into this scene. She sweats profusely, the podium breaks, she dabs her sweat with tissue that breaks off on her face, and the professor does absolutely NOTHING about it. If a student has a reaction this extreme to an oral presentation, they wouldn’t allow it to continue. Yes yes, students should try and overcome these fears, but A) this is college, not grade school, and B) this student if of an advanced age. She’s not a teenager. I think this rule should have an acceptability curve. Even if not, no professor would allow this to go on.
I’m calling it, my mom is older than Deanna is supposed to be, and she knows who Dumbledore is. For a woman who is so attached to her child and seems way too involved with her life, this seems highly unlikely that Deanna wouldn’t understand a few Harry Potter references. And since when does Deanna play soccer? Why is she playing soccer? This movie understands that this never comes back into play in the movie and only serves as a “wah-wah” gag. Cheap comedy, folks. The lowest and most common form of comedy…
Deanna was getting so under my skin that I was about ready to take Dan’s (Matt Walsh) side! He’s been cheating on her, leaves her abruptly, and shacks up with a younger, less annoying and more successful other woman. Cheating is horrible. I do not condone it in any fashion, like most well-adjusted human beings would say. But if I had a significant other that was as obnoxious as Deanna, let alone a twenty-plus year marriage to her, she wouldn’t be a significant other, or wife, for very long. The only reason why I don’t full on cheer for Dan is because he does annoyingly get a single earring on a lobe and compares himself to Harrison Ford. Dude needed to get over himself.
Few of the characters pick of the slack in terms of their likability, as well. Maddie is an inconsistently-written character who seems to bounce from not wanting her mom to hang out with her and her friends, and wanting to spend a little too much time with her and party with her.
Helen (Gillian Jacobs) has a backstory that doesn’t play into anything. She recently woke up from a coma. And… that’s it. Nothing in her character really plays into this information other than one bit where she pretends to fall into another coma when a guy that she’s not interested in starts hitting on her. This could have been funny if she actually fell over and hit the ground hard, causing people around her to freak out, but then get rights back up if the guy left in a panic, but no, she just stays standing. Because… you know, people in college are idiots. While I won’t deny my snarky statement, but I have to believe that people in college are smarter than that. I don’t know, man, Jacobs is a talented woman and has proven both her comedic and dramatic chops before. She was way above the material she was given. Oh, and somehow, this movie lives in a world comas don’t exist. Why do I say that? Because there is literally a line where Helen says that her coma was a medical mystery. Um… how? Comas are quite common. I don’t get how hers was somehow insanely different.
And oh my god, Maya Rudolph. Not that I’m her biggest fan either, but like McCarthy, she’s been funny before. But neither actress seems to ever pick material that showcases their talent. I want to like Rudolph more than I do, but… damn it, this movie doesn’t do her any favors as a character who just… does things. So there’s a… not-court room scene (sorry, these double Jack and Cokes are really hitting me hard and I can’t remember technical terms), where Dan is with the woman he intends to marry after divorcing McCarthy, he sniffs her wrist to comment on her… perfume scent, I guess? I don’t know, I always assumed perfume was meant as a subtle attention-grab, but what do I know? Anyway, in retaliation, Christine (Rudolph) takes Deanna’s hand and sniffs her wrist… as if that would make Dan jealous…? Commenting that she smells like garlic. Actually, that was Deanna’s comment about the garlic, but the joke still makes zero sense. Did Christine think that Dan cheated on Deanna because her wrists didn’t smell great? I just don’t get it. Although I did like the Harrison Ford Star Wars reference later on. But that could have been delivered by any actor and it would have been funny enough.
And what’s with Leonor (Heidi Gardner)? She’s this highly phobic character who is afraid of everything. Afraid of the dark, despite keeping the blinds of the dorm room closed off and keeping the dorm in complete darkness. She also doesn’t go… outside? I don’t get it. If she’s got a phobia of everything that’s anything, how is she in this dorm room to begin with? She had to have been driven there by somebody, if not herself. She has to go to class if she’s in a college, right? If she was taking online courses at home, that’d be one thing, but she’s… not, and that’d make her character pretty useless. So how does she go to class if she’s too afraid to go outside? I feel like Gardner could be a funny actress, as she’s apparently a writer for SNL, but… damn, she wasn’t funny here.
And why are there bullies in college? Look, I won’t pretend that bullying doesn’t exist, in college and beyond, it most certainly does, but to see it presented in such an adolescent fashion? The more akin to stereotypical high school bullies. Even bad college movies of this caliber haven’t always tapped into this trope.
For the record, folks, there’s no such thing as “agave tequila.” There’s no type of tequila called “agave tequila.” It’s not a flavor, it’s not a brand, nothing like that. All tequila, mezcal, and agave wine (as well as agave nectar, which if you haven’t tried, is a delicious substitute for honey) are made from the blue agave plant, which is indigenous to Mexico. But… again, there’s no such thing as “agave tequila.” Piss the @#$% off, movie. And can someone explain to me “Kahlua and cranberry?” That sounds… absolutely disgusting.
Also, immediate hate for this movie’s choice in music. Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” Not that I have anything against the dude, I get that he’s a popular musician, but I also have a day job in a restaurant and the default music station we are forced to listen to every bleeding shift, this song is guaranteed to play. I haven’t gotten a break from this @#$%ing song since I started working and I’m @#$%ing so sick of it. Any time I hear music from work in my movies, I immediately dock a point. It’s annoying at work, it’s annoying in this movie.
Clearly this is a horrible movie, but that can be a pretty easy thing to spot. Does it have any redeeming qualities? Well… turns out that Jack (Luke Benward), the young man that Deanna is obnoxiously having sex with, is actually Marcie’s son. That was a fun twist, and in a better movie, this would have had a satisfactory bite if Deanna was a more likable character and if I was given reasons to dislike Marcie, which I wasn’t. As is, it’s the only positive that I could fish out of this lake of crap.
Overall, this movie is atrocious. A terrible excuse for a comedy. It brings nothing new to the table for its genre, doesn’t provide a single likable character, all extremely annoying, and is a colossal waste of time and effort. I do not recommend this movie in the slightest. Don’t waste your gas going to see it, don’t waste your money, don’t waste your time. The only reason why I likely won’t give this movie a lower rating is because it does somehow avoid gross-out humor, which is a staggering revelation when I think about it, therefore making this a standard unfunny and inoffensive comedy, but that doesn’t excuse this movie from being awful. This flick couldn’t bother to give comedy the old college try.
My honest rating for LIFE OF THE PARTY: 2/5