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Review: Life of the Party

Life of the Party is a serviceable, but forgettable vehicle for the affable Melissa McCarthy. She plays a middle-aged housewife named Deanna whose husband abruptly announces that he wants a divorce after 20-plus years and is in love with a local realtor. He dumps this news on Deanna just after they drop-off their daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) at a nearby college where she’s about to start her senior year. The locale gets Mom thinking… perhaps it’s time to go back to school herself and get those last credits she needed to graduate with a degree in archaeology. Cue the archaeology puns (can you dig it?), the makeover, and the conventional college and family-dysfunction comedy antics: Deanna’s decision initially horrifies Maddie while her sorority sisters think Mom is the bomb (in a cool way); she moves into the dorms and attempts to bond with her freakish loner of a roommate; and, she catches the eye – and more – of a hunky young guy on campus.

Dubbed “Dee-Rock” by her new friends, Deanna embraces the modern-day college experience and rediscovers herself in new and unexpected ways. Her growing confidence and chutzpah confounds her ex, and thoroughly amuses her best friend and biggest supporter Christine (Maya Rudolph, playing the worthy comedic sidekick that she’s come to personify). The quietly hilarious standout is Gillian Jacobs (from TV’s Community) as Helen, aka “Coma Girl”, an odd duck who spent eight years in a coma and is trying to make up for lost time.

Life of the Party was co-written by McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone who directed the film and has a cute cameo. The duo has worked together previously, on films like Tammy and The Boss. If you barely remember those, you’ll understand why Life of the Party may register as fun enough in the moment, but won’t resonate for long. If desperate for a comedy, it’s an okay choice. Otherwise, wait for the rental or airplane viewing!

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