Movie review: Life of the party

Life of the Party — Running Time: 1:45 — Rating: PG-13
“Life of the Party” wins a Gold Star in the race for being the worst movie of the year. It was released with a swish of pre-release publicity that promised Melissa McCarthy and her director husband Ben Falcone were coming up with a fine comedy. In a year that so far has given us relatively few standout movies along with a mountain of weak ones, this one goes to the bottom of the heap.
The sad part of this is that Melissa McCarthy is a talented comedienne who has drawn appreciation in the past, and here she is surrounded by a number of teenage girls who obviously have talent. But what they are asked to deliver reduces them to ashes. There’s no excuse for submerging talent in terrible material. Using the actors’ real names, let’s take a look.
Melissa McCarthy is married to Matt Walsh who announces during a car ride that he is filing for divorce and is marrying real estate agent Julie Bowen, who creates a neatly dressed blonde pole without a drop of personality. Molly Gordon does a fine job as Melissa’s daughter, who is a college senior, loves her mother and offers emotional support. Mom announces that because she lost her senior year at college to pregnancy, she is returning to take her senior year alongside her daughter. OK, you have the bare bones. Now look what the writers and director do.
Much to her daughter’s surprise, though not to that of the audience, Mom blends in immediately with her daughter’s group of friends and becomes not just one of them but the one they all want to help. This is as unlikely a premise as anyone could conjure.
You will endure the following: First, a perfectly terrible scene when Melissa McCarthy tells her own parents about the divorce while the scene dissolves into embarrassing silliness. Second, she moves out of the marital home in ridiculous scenes where she falls and trips repeatedly as she loads her belongings into her car.
Suddenly, mother and daughter are classmates as college seniors where Mom is involved in a long series of ridiculous situations that she tries to save by overacting as the comic target of all the jokes. Determined to save a bad script, McCarthy exaggerates both her lines and her situations. Several ghastly parties unfold to make everything even worse. At one, she laces the chocolates unwittingly with a drug that puts everyone in outer space while they dance so embarrassingly that you may well close your eyes to avoid the sight.
Whether she is addressing the class incoherently about archeology or announcing she has just had sex with the 22-year-old who has taken a shine to her, the talented Melissa McCarthy tries and fails absolutely to save this genuinely awful movie. The audience wants to like it but the premise, the script and the overacting make that an impossible task. It’s an insult to both the cast and the audience.
— Reviewed by Joan Ellis

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