Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone have added “Life of the Party” to their co-written, McCarthy-starring, Falcone-directed stable of dumb movies. To be fair, “Life of the Party” is the best of their now three bad movies. Best, however, is a relative term.
For those who don’t remember, the first two collaborations were “The Boss” and “Tammy.”
“Life of the Party” brings to mind — and may have been inspired by — Rodney Dangerfield’s awful flick “Back to School.” It was an awful idea in 1986 and is an awful idea now.
McCarthy is Deanna. Just after dropping daughter Maddie off at college, her husband drops the D-bomb. He’s fallen for a realtor and — hey, lucky for him — the realtor has listed the house. With a hubby who’s history, Deanna needs something to do with her life.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where this is going. Deanna heads back to college to finish the degree she didn’t get eons ago when she got pregnant. He finished college, she raised the kid. You get the picture.
It’s no surprise that she picks the same school as doting daughter Maddie. To Maddie, it’s an oil-and-water mix, but her ditzy friends love the idea. With that, mom becomes the — as the title says — life of the party. Everyone loves her — well, almost everyone — as she tries to fit in with kids 20-some years younger.
As the film progresses, Deanna morphs into Dee-Rock and when not the life of the party, she dispenses motherly wisdom, befriends her very Goth roommate, becomes a teacher’s pet and gives us one or two other supposed surprises.
Only one event in the film can be categorized as a surprise, and it did elicit a laugh.
I love McCarthy, but since “Bridesmaids” — whose show she stole — there has been this huge effort to make her a movie star and not a supporting actress. Truthfully, I love the lady. She’s a great character actress with a lot of talent. When used sparingly, McCarthy is amazing.
Carrying a movie just isn’t her thing.
To begin with, in most of her starring roles — and in this one — McCarthy is just plain irritating. Deanna — oh, sorry, Dee-Rock — blathers non-stop at about 180 mph, with gusts up to 220. In this kind of movie, there are places where less is more. Subtle comedy is not something McCarthy and Falcone seem to understand. They keep heaping on the “more” and forgetting that in comedy, sometimes what isn’t said or done can be much funnier than volumes of dialogue.
One positive is some terrific young talent who do the students. They’re all pretty good and manage to take the edge off much of the irritation generated by McCarthy.
Speaking of irritating, McCarthy and “Bridesmaids” mate Maya Rudolph play best buds. They try mightily to come up with comic bits to fill the way-too-many dead spots, but other than a great sequence in a divorce settlement scene, the attempts fall almost as flat as this film.
This isn’t to say it’s a total loss. “Life of the Party” isn’t the life of the party, but there are spots where you — like you did at McCarthy’s work in “Bridesmaids” — will laugh out loud. You just won’t do it very often.
Movie name: ‘Life of the Party’
Director: Ben Falcone
Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Molly Gordon, Gillian Jacobs, Luke Benward, Shannon Purser, Julie Bowen, Matt Walsh, Heidi Gardner, Chris Parnell, Jimmy O. Yang, Steven Root, Jacki Weaver, Debby Ryan, Christina Aguilera, Ben Falcone
Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars
Rated PG-13 for very mature themes, some language. It’s playing at the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s, the AMC Kennewick 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.