THE COLLEGE CAMPUS — Odds are you're going to the theater this weekend to watch "Avengers: Infinity War" for the seventh time, which is fine because it's a fun movie. But if you want a break from the Marvel mayhem for an afternoon or an evening I have a surprise recommendation for you: "Life of the Party."
I'm just as surprised as you are.
When I walked into the theater to watch Melissa McCarthy's latest bumbling character awkwardly make her way through 90 minutes of movie, my expectations were low.
Truth is, "low," is an understatement. My expectations weren't even in the same building. I joke sometimes about how I have the greatest job in the world because I get to go watch movies, but sometimes you head to a movie and it truly feels like a job.
This was the attitude I had going into "Life of the Party," but thankfully I ate my words and actually had a good time.
This is certainly not McCarthy's best film, and I doubt it will go down in history as a comedy standard, but I laughed out loud a number of times and was still smiling when I walked out of the theater.
"Life of the Party" stars McCarthy as a mom who has just dropped her daughter off at college for her senior year and finds out her husband is cheating on her and wants a divorce all in the same day.
In an effort to finally do something for herself, McCarthy heads back to college to finish the degree she abandoned when she got pregnant. You can guess where it goes from here: McCarthy crashes her daughter's parties and reinvents herself in the process.
The premise is formulaic, but it still made for an enjoyable comedy despite its faults. Here are the reasons I enjoyed this party and the reasons why I wanted to sneak out early:
It's hard not to fall in love with Deanna (McCarthy), her bad luck and constant positive attitude. The movie plays out a lot like a fish-out-of-water story and for some reason, I am a sucker for those.
Deanna is sweet and naïve, but also brings a boatload of knowledge she drops on her daughter and her sorority sisters that makes the loveable loser even more loveable. This character is similar to many of McCarthy's other characters, but the vulnerability and fallibility of Deanna seem to make the similarities OK.
It appears most critics don't agree with me on this one considering "Life of the Party" only has a 41 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but I don't really care because I thought it was funny.
Some of the jokes miss, but others land so solidly that I found myself crying for laughter more than once. Almost all of the comedy comes from McCarthy and Maya Rudolph, which can be frustrating when there is such a large cast, but in the end, I laughed enough that it didn't matter.
The moments with Rudolph and McCarthy are fun and there were some memorable lines that I'll be quoting for at least the next few months.
As I mentioned pretty much all of the humor comes from McCarthy and Rudolph. Some of the other characters have their moments, but some of them are introduced and then pretty much abandoned.
This became obnoxious at times considering I was supposed to care about some of these characters, but it's hard to when you totally forget they even exist until they pop up on camera again.
The script could have used some editing to get rid of certain characters that were just dead weight.
The term, "jumping the shark," refers to when TV shows have run out of good ideas and end up doing something that ruins the series. The line comes from an infamous episode of "Happy Days" when The Fonz literally jumps a shark on water skis. The last moments of "Life of the Party" jumped the shark for me.
I won't ruin anything for those who want to see the movie, but the "save the day" moment feels like it belonged in an episode of "Saved by the Bell" and not in a multimillion-dollar Hollywood movie. The plot device was enough that it nearly ruined the film for me.
When you break "Life of the Party" down to its basic parts, it's really not a great movie. The majority of the characters are lacking, the story formulaic and the structure lazy, but in the end it made me laugh and that's all I needed. Maybe it was my low expectations going in, but I laughed at a comedy and that's why you go.
"Life of the Party" is rated PG-13 for sexual material, drug content and partying. The movie earned its rating and while the language is low the sexual references are fairly high. I don't think the movie is offensive or downright crude, but it is certainly a PG-13.