“Life of the Party” begins with a generic pop song that would make you change the station after seconds of hearing it on the radio. Watching “Life of the Party” feels like your radio getting stuck on a station that’s playing a generic pop song, forcing you to decide between sticking it out and submitting to silence. Is this comedy better than not watching a movie at all?
“Life of the Party” is the third collaboration between Melissa McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone. As with previous projects “Tammy” and “The Boss”, Falcone directed, McCarthy starred, and they co-wrote the screenplay. McCarthy has proved herself to be a comedic force, but not so much when she’s partnering up with her partner—their previous efforts were met with critical derision.
But no matter, they’re back again. What shenanigans is Melissa McCarthy up to now? After her one-note husband surprises her with a divorce, Deanna Miles decides to finish her last year of college. She’s excited to pursue her true passion, and the audience will be excited for the dialogue to stop reminding them that Deanna never finished college. “Life of the Party” repeats itself more than an absentminded professor, recycling information and gags and scenes until you end up in nightmarish déjà vu perpetuity.
Falcone’s direction never provides a pinch to wake you up. His mark on the film is limp and pathetic. It’s a cavalcade of missed opportunities—drug trips and wild parties are shot with all the enthusiasm of a student in a 7 a.m. class. Sets are dotted with lackluster extras, conversations contain more dead space than substance, and the color grading washes everything out with a dull sheen. The movie sorely lacks the visual ingenuity of comedy gems like Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
It also lacks good jokes, period. “Life of the Party” is a one hour and forty-five minute comedy, and I didn’t laugh once. I smiled at a face that Gillian Jacobs made and at a line that Maya Rudolph shouted, but otherwise, none of the humor landed. McCarthy gives her all in an attempt to uplift an utterly unfunny script, but it’s embarrassing to watch her talents go to waste. The comedy is so boring, overdone, and desperate that I’m convinced the studio hired the people who were laughing.
I did laugh once, come to think of it: Deanna’s daughter Maddie, upon hearing news of her parents’ divorce, says “wait, what?” so awkwardly that you’d think those words had never left her mouth before. Minor characters give their roles the old college try, while some bigger names are clearly just there to cash a paycheck. The conflict between these characters—like Maddie’s sporadic shame in attending the same college as her mother—isn’t interesting, as every roadblock is overcome easily or immediately.
Sitting in silence for 105 minutes is a better use of your time than the miserable “Life of the Party.” At least in solitude, you might think of something funny.