When will it be time again for Melissa McCarthy to go back to being that hilarious breakout star from Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids? These past few years have been a tragedy for McCarthy’s promising career, as she has chosen some very questionable collaborative projects with her husband Ben Falcone. That’s not to say that she hasn’t had several successes within the rough, but the terrible ones stand out much more prominently. Life of the Party is no Tammy, but it is certainly not an enjoyable ride - playing off of the most predictable humor known to man and making the viewer suffer through every stale joke.
Life of the Party is Ben Falcone’s third directing effort with his wife Melissa McCarthy, and when viewed in a directing standpoint, it’s a massive improvement over the previous two films. It’s still a generic feature with virtually no laughs to be had beyond one or two that land from several side characters, but never successfully by the lead. Life of the Party feels like it was set in the wrong decade, possibly for the fact that McCarthy’s Deanna resembles a certain Goldberg from a critically successful ABC series and doesn’t achieve any originality with her role. Falcone’s directing needs work, but less his direction, and much more his screenwriting abilities.
Deanna and her daughter wind up going to school together after Deanna is forced into a sudden divorce. Wanting to finish her degree, the film focuses on the newly single mom trying to pass a single class, while having a usual college experience while approaching being middle aged. The entire script is humorless - having a few awkward jokes pull through in the end due to decent performances by Gillian Jacobs and Maya Rudolph. The plotline is incredibly predictable with only one solid twist genuinely surprising the audience along this tedious venture.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Deanna, as played by Melissa McCarthy, resembles a tame version of the character Beverly Goldberg, although not to say that the film takes exact inspiration from that show. However, the character is eerily similar in her personality and dress attire. Her daughter as a main character is instantly forgettable, along with the college friends she gains along the way, with the exception of Gillian Jacobs. On a personal level it was fascinating to see “Silicon Valley’s” Jimmy O’ Yang speaking normally, even though his character is just as forgettable as everyone else. The film mainly focuses on the awkward and forbidden relationship between Deanna and a college student, Jack (Luke Benward). Their relationship has a moment or two of comedic worth, but not too much stand out among the generic backdrop of the rest of the movie.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Absolutely no offense to the composer Fil Eisler, but every film he has featured his music in have all been awful films on their own, leading to have Eisler’s score being lost in the background. To be perfectly frank, the score for Life of the Party felt too simplistic and easily drifted into the background. It’s not one to be remembered because it simply doesn’t want the viewer to fully respect it as it doesn’t manage to make much of an impact whatsoever. The score resembles a cheap soap opera score, and the scenes that don’t have score lingering in the background have misfitting modern day music trying to cover up the poor energy from the cast and crew. The only thing that I can say that I found okay with the sound design is that a key plotpoint party was properly loud and...hmmm...sounded like what a party should. Sadly that’s about it.
The costume design is what needs to be spoken about in this section above everything else because there is honestly not enough to mention in any of the other aspects of the film. The costume design is out there, feeling like it doesn’t belong in the present day time period but also oddly doesn’t fit in any other period either. It all just feels off-putting and is just another thing to think about in this endlessly generic telling of a mother going back to college.
If Life of the Party tells us anything, it’s that Melissa McCarthy needs to stop working with her husband Ben Falcone and get back to working with her long time collaborator Paul Feig, since at least most of his films are relatively clever. With the failures of Tammy, The Boss, and now Life of the Party, with another comedy coming from the two in the next year or so...let’s hope that they discover some unfound energy and creativity for their next outing because three times is certainly not the charm for these two.