Melissa McCarthy may be one of the funniest women working in Hollywood today, however neither of her recent pics have lived up to the sky high comedic standard of Spy and Bridesmaids. Ben Falcone, real life husband of McCarthy, returns to direct Life of the Party following the offensively bad Tammy and mind-numbingly awful The Boss - but will he complete the hat trick of truly abysmal McCarthy comedies? Following her husband's abrupt request for divorce, middle aged mum Diane decides to enrol back in college to complete her Archeology degree.
Though it's neither profound nor memorable Life of the Party is a surprisingly hilarious college comedy that offers a glimpse of the more family friendly side of McCarthy. If you ask whether it is as bad as either Tammy or The Boss? The answer is most certainly no - in fact Life of the Party, though flawed, is a far better break for director Falcone. It definitely won't stand the test of time but for the most part Life of the Party is a pleasant couple of hours spent at the pictures.
Here we see Diane, a forty something mother who gave up everything to fulfil her mothering duties - following her abrupt divorce it's her time to do something for her own satisfaction and fulfilment. Through an almost Disney channel friendly tone Life of the Party proves McCarthy can be hilarious when not playing the foul-mouthed know it all for which many of her pictures are known best for. Diane is sweet and endearing and through her time at college learns to be a little more free spirited - less so in a raunchy, offensive way but more as an old dog with new tricks - ultimately Diane's character is way more empathetic than some of McCarthy's formidable predecessors.
This strange and unexpected family friendly tone is often the best but also worst part of the film. It feels as if Falcone begins to delve into the 15 certificate territory but suddenly pulls out at the last second with Life of the Party seeming to play it a little too safe. I'm certain this is a studio strategy as a 15 certificate could deter many young girls and their mothers from seeing this comedy flick, however too often it feels as if the jokes - though funny if not hilarious - sometimes rely heavily of conventional comedy beats such as slapstick or innuendo. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as ultimately it works, Life of the Party is worth a ticket however it's still not up to the standard of McCarthy's previous better 15 certificate comedies.
There is certainly more to comedy than sex gags and Life of the Party is one of the few McCarthy comedies to prove so. The lighter jokes exchanged for the ruder ones are admittedly very amusing however if the film were just a little more, dare I say it, riskier in its screenplay then perhaps Life of the Party would pack a little more of a punch than it does. At the end of the day Falcone has made a comedy that is light, disposable but also pleasant and harmless - with McCarthy back at the books Life of the Party is just about saved by the bell.
Life of the Party:
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.