Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Gillian Jacobs
Director: Ben Falcone
Running Time: 104 mins
Life Of The Party is an American film about a middle-aged woman who, after being asked for a divorce by her husband, decides to set her mind to studying as she returns to university to complete her degree.
Of course reminiscent of Back To School starring Rodney Dangerfield for its premise, Life Of The Party wins at times with the odd bit of good comedy, as well as a pleasantly light-hearted atmosphere throughout. However, it doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from most college party movies, and the presence of an older protagonist is little more than a gimmick to make things seem a little fresher, but actually doesn’t prevent the film from being a rather underwhelming watch throughout.
Let’s start on the bright side, with the fact that, while it’s hardly the world’s funniest comedy, there is the odd chuckle here and there in Life Of The Party. And when I say the odd chuckle, I mean that there are about 4 or 5 moderately funny jokes throughout. That’s a whole lot more than the worst comedies of all, so getting just one laugh out of the viewer is an achievement in itself, but it’s hardly the greatest endorsement for a film that’s meant to be a riotously funny watch.
What the movie does have on its side is the fact that it’s not too vulgar, and not too juvenile. The one benefit of having a slightly more mature presence in the film in the form of Melissa McCarthy, the film generally avoids descending into the depths of nightmarish college revelry. As a result, it’s a much more light-hearted film, and has the atmosphere of something a lot more simple and pleasant than many irritatingly boisterous college movies like American Pie.
However, when it comes to changing up the formula of a college movie in the way that Back To School does – to a degree – Life Of The Party doesn’t really do much. Just having a middle-aged woman attending university doesn’t immediately make everything funnier, and throughout the film, Melissa McCarthy’s character is effectively turned into just another one of the young folks, with little in the way of a different approach to the world being more experienced.
Back To School takes the exact opposite approach to the premise, with Rodney Dangerfield sticking out like a real sore thumb in his time at university, whereas the way that Melissa McCarthy is accepted and integrated into normal college society means that Life Of The Party feels almost exactly the same as any generic college movie, and that’s what ultimately makes it a rather dull film.
I can’t fault the energy of McCarthy’s performance, and she’s a thoroughly likable lead throughout, while Maya Rudolph turns up with yet another characteristically energetic supporting performance, although the rest of the cast – particularly the younger actors and actresses – aren’t particularly inspiring, and there are no characters that stand out at all apart from McCarthy and Rudolph.
Overall, I wasn’t overly impressed with Life Of The Party. While it does well to avoid irritating, juvenile college revelry, as well as featuring the odd good laugh, it’s a generally underwhelming and disappointingly generic college movie, failing to capitalise on a fun premise and instead taking a rather predictable and dull route throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.1.