It’s always pretty cool with a director and actor work well together, but when they are husband and wife it adds a completely different (and in some cases even cooler) dynamic. Ben Falcone’s three feature films have all starred his wife, Melissa McCarthy, including their latest collaboration in “Life of The Party”.
McCarthy plays Deanna, a housewife who left college before her senior year to become a mother to Maddie (Molly Gordon). Just after they drop Maddie off for her senior year, Deanna’s husband, Dan (Matt Walsh) tells her he wants a divorce, and with all of her new free time, Deanna decides to finish out her Archeology degree with her daughter in her forties. From living in the dorm to hanging out with her daughter’s sorority sisters, Deanna does her best to fit in while starting out with her new normal.
This may be hard to believe, but this is not really a gender reversed “Back to School”. While Rodney Dangerfield’s Thornton Melon was more of a carefree rich guy just wanting to party, Melissa McCarthy’s Deanna is almost the polar opposite: an out-of-touch middle-aged mother who DOES want to fit in, but more cares about bettering herself. On the downside, this leads to a film that doesn’t really carry much story and relies on the comedic talents of McCarthy and her cast mates, which include Maya Rudolph, Gillian Jacobs, Stephen Root, Julie Bowen, Chris Parnell, and current “SNL” performer Heidi Gardner, who shines more than she does normally on her primary job. The upside is that this cast, along with their younger counterparts, do carry the funny on each and every level. (And if you were wondering: yes, Falcone DOES have a cameo, and it’s pretty funny as well.)
I can’t say that “Life of the Party” will ever be seen in the upper echelon of films when looking at Melissa McCarthy’s body of work, but it also is one that I can say that I enjoyed very much. This is one of those films that fills a gap in the summer movie season between all of the event films and/or those that provide more testosterone than even the largest of auditoriums can handle. Prepare to be entertained and laugh enough to get rid of even the bluest of blues!