Full disclosure: I’ve never seen a Melissa McCarthy movie. I haven’t avoided them. I just haven’t happened to watch anything that she’s in. No, I’ve never seen Bridesmaids (even though I own it because I’m sure I’ll love it when I finally do watch it). So I went into Life of the Party totally cold. All I had was a synopsis.
When her husband suddenly dumps her, longtime dedicated housewife Deanna (Melissa McCarthy) turns regret into re-set by going back to college…landing in the same class and school as her daughter, who’s not entirely sold on the idea. Plunging headlong into the campus experience, the increasingly outspoken Deanna—now Dee Rock—embraces freedom, fun and frat boys on her own terms, finding her true self in a senior year no one ever expected.
We actually talked about this on an episode of Stinger Podcast a few weeks ago when my co-host, Shannon, read me the description. My reaction?
Oh, so this is a remake of ‘Back to School.’
I immediately thought of the 1986 classic starring Rodney Dangerfield, among others. It was your typical raucous college movie, heavy on parties, hot tubs, and love, for lack of a better term. And knowing that McCarthy has a rated R reputation, I was expecting much the same.
Well, that is NOT the movie I got.
Deanna is your classic mom cliché, complete with overcurled hair, out of date glasses, and a cute kitten sweatshirt. She, along with her husband, drops her daughter off at Decatur University for her senior year. On the way out, her jerk of a husband (they make that very clear from the start) announces that he’s leaving her for another woman.
What happens to a middle-aged woman, who’s spent her life as a wife a stay-at-home mom, when she gets a bomb dropped on her? She plays racquetball with her best friend, played by Maya Rudolph, while drinking wine and hoping to God she doesn’t become one of those women that starts a blog.
(insert side eye)
Eventually we learn that Deanna actually dropped out of college to get married and have a baby and she’s decided to go back to school. Her alma mater. Her daughter’s school. AND THEN HILARITY ENSUES!
At least, that’s what typically happens. That’s not what happened in this movie.
Most of the movie is actually about the relationship between Deanna and her daughter, Maddie. They struggle to figure out how they can fit on the same campus and then in the same social circle. Maddie’s friends fall in love with Deanna, dubbing her Dee Rock, and Maddie has to come to accept that her mom is kinda cool after all.
What can you expect?
A makeover. OF COURSE.
A romp with a younger guy. OF COURSE.
Valuable Lessons Learned.
And a happily ever after.
So, if you were looking for a laugh out loud, rolling in the floors kind of movie, this isn’t it. If you were looking for cheap, mindless humor, this isn’t it. If you were looking for characters that don’t always make sense and a storyline that’s not very well laid out, this is it. But if you’re looking for a Melissa McCarthy movie that might be funny and sweet to see with your teen daughter and won’t make either of you blush, this is also it.
I didn’t have any major issues with this movie. It just wasn’t really very funny. When you title a movie Life of the Party, you expect more ‘party’ and less ‘lifetime’ if you know what I’m saying. And with both Debby Ryan and Luke Benward in the movie, it felt like something on the Disney Channel at times.
But I would keep your eye on Jessie Ennis, who plays the adorable red-headed sorority sister, Debbie. She’s adorable and I’d love to see her do more things.