‘Life of the Party’ has harmless fun

By Elspeth Macnab-Stark
Times-News correspondent

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This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Melissa McCarthy in a scene from the comedy "Life of the Party." [Hopper Stone/Warner Bros. Pictures via The Associated Press

   ”Life of the Party” follows Deanna, a middle-aged housewife whose   husband unexpectedly asks for a divorce, forcing her to take back her   own life.
Deanna, played by Melissa McCarthy, responds by going back to   college and finally finishing her degree. The movie quickly checks off   most college movie clichés and may overuse the “it’s funny because   she’s old” gag, but McCarthy is consistently amusing to watch. This   movie will appeal to women who can empathize with Deanna trying to   balance being a mom while living her own life. Despite the positive   message, “Life of the Party” had the potential to be far better than it   was.
While a few too many jokes fell flat, those that did hit the mark had   the audience falling out of their seats with laughter — a feat which can   be largely credited to the fantastic Maya Rudolph as Christine, whose   quirky comedy made up for others’ failed attempts. Gillian Jacobs’   sheer weirdness as Helen held scenes together, despite dialogue not feeling grounded.
Overall, the story felt uneven, scenes dragged or felt out of place. The plot was, in some places, largely undeveloped — several subplots were set up, then ignored, leaving loose ends. Minimal effort was put into developing meaningful character arcs, particularly for Deanna who, though lovable, experiences all her character development in a 30-second scene 20 minutes in.
McCarthy is a fantastic comedic actress, but we are again forced to watch her talent go to waste due to misguided direction. With genuine comedy, great music and a feel-good message at its core, “Life of the Party” is perfect if you are looking for harmless fun — and sometimes that’s enough. It might not be an award-winning box office hit, but you’ll laugh enough to make it worth your while.
“Life of the Party” is rated PG-13 for sexual material and drug content. Running time is 105 minutes.

Elspeth Macnab-Stark is a high school graduate and a Teens & 20s writer.

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