Review Roundup: Critics Weigh In On LIFE OF THE PARTY
New Line Cinema's comedy "Life of the Party" stars Melissa McCarthy under the direction of Ben Falcone. When her husband suddenly dumps her, longtime dedicated housewife Deanna (McCarthy) turns regret into re-set by going back to college...landing in the same class and school as her daughter, who's not entirely sold on the idea. Plunging headlong into the campus experience, the increasingly outspoken Deanna-now Dee Rock-embraces freedom, fun and frat boys on her own terms, finding her true self in a senior year no one ever expected.
The film also stars Gillian Jacobs ("Don't Think Twice," "Love," "Community"), Maya Rudolph ("Bridesmaids," "Sisters"), Julie Bowen ("Modern Family"), Matt Walsh ("Veep," "Ghostbusters"), Molly Gordon ("Love the Coopers," "Animal Kingdom"), with Stephen Root ("Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates"), and Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver ("Silver Linings Playbook," "Animal Kingdom"), Jessie Ennis ("Better Call Saul"), Adria Arjona ("True Detective," "Emerald City"), Debby Ryan ("Jessie") and Jimmy O. Yang ("Silicon Valley").
McCarthy and Falcone co-wrote the screenplay and produced through their production company, On the Day. Chris Henchy also produced the film, with Toby Emmerich, Richard Brener, Michael Disco and David Siegel serving as executive producers.
The film hits theaters today, so lets see what the critics are saying here:
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: "Of course, no movie with McCarthy can be a total loss, and Life of the Party has its moments once the script stops making easy jokes about fish-outta-water cluelessness and lets McCarthy mix it up with a terrific-if-overqualified supporting cast. SNL's Heidi Gardner excels as Deanna's goth roommate; Gillian Jacobs is a hoot as an adult student who returns to school after eight years in a coma (don't ask); and Maya Rudolph, as Deanna's off-campus best friend, makes a perfect McCarthy sparring partner."
Amy Nicholson, Variety: "Besides the audience wondering if this entire comedy can be fueled on sugar - mostly, yes - there's little suspense. Can Deanna finish her archeology degree before her ex-husband's support payments run out? Of course. Must we fret that she'll accept Jack's offer to throw away her education - again - to backpack across Europe? Mais non! Even her goth roommate Leonor (SNL's Heidi Gardner), a vampire who never leaves their dorm, is cleanly and charmingly defanged. "You like to dig up stuff, I like to bury stuff," nods Leonor. They can coexist."<
Jude Dry, IndieWire:""Life of the Party" is proof that even the funniest actors need good material, which makes it all the more disappointing that McCarthy wrote the script with director Ben Falcone, who is also her husband. The two previously collaborated on "Tammy" (2014) and "The Boss" (2016), both critical failures that turned hefty profits. "Life of the Party" will likely follow suit, but it won't graduate with honors."
Adam Graham, The Detroit News: "McCarthy, teaming with her husband, Ben Falcone, for the third time (following the similarly passable-at-best "Tammy" and "The Boss"), works hard; she's a veritable cheer factory, practically assaulting everyone around her with her sweetness. A few times, she's so winning that she breaks through. Her character, meanwhile, is seemingly under the Poochie rule where whenever she is not on screen, all the other characters around her must ask, "where's Deanna?" (McCarthy and Falcone co-wrote the script.)"
Blake Goble, Consequence of Sound: "It's cold, blunt, and the stuff of bad cringe comedy. To watch McCarthy kick her husband's car meekly because she doesn't know how else to act is rough, and a little mean. This is the bad opening, where the tone is messy bordering on curt, and the movie almost washes out. Is it Office comedy, or an ashes-to-diamonds empowerment yarn? But there's hope around the corner. Broke, and with a little mid-life re-invigoration, Deanna's next act will be to finish the archaeology degree she never completed. And this is when the movie gets a little better. Once Life of the Party accepts itself as something broad and silly, it goes down a lot easier for everybody."
Tom Russo, Boston Globe: "McCarthy and Falcone's script generates some atypical juice in a thread about Deanna's hot-and-heavy mutual infatuation with a sweet-natured frat hunk (Luke Benward). The amusement level spikes every time McCarthy's character takes progressively bolder ownership of her newfound empowerment. We need more of, say, a DIVORCE mediation and a restaurant encounter in which Deanna and her feisty gal pal (Maya Rudolph) tell Walsh's buffoon and his catty paramour (Julie Bowen) where they can stick their "relationship upgrade." Play it too unpresumptuously, and you risk coming off like a ho-hum wallflower rather than the life of the party."