It's a common mantra that you "strike while the iron is hot". This timeless adage can often describe movie stars who cash in on lucrative paydays before their time in the spotlight subsides and their box office value diminishes. And after scoring a rare Oscar Nomination for her hysterical performance in the comedy hit Bridesmaids, no one could have imagined that Melissa McCarthy's newfound success was on such a rapidly expiring clock. But as flop after flop continues to reinforce the notion that McCarthy's slapstick humor has worn on audiences, this one time queen of comedy keeps nearing an all too sad and familiar fate with her latest dud, Life of the Party.
Just as Deanna (McCarthy) drops her daughter off at a sorority house to embark on her senior year of college, she's blindsided by her unfaithful husband's desire for a divorce. Yet, rather than mail it in as a newly single middle-aged mom with no finances to speak of, Deanna decides to join her daughter and return to college to finish the degree she abandoned decades prior after getting pregnant. And through the bonding sisterhood of her daughter's closest friends and Deanna's bizarre new roommate in the dorms, perhaps she can recapture her confidence and earn that diploma once and for all.
Before I begin voicing my displeasure with Ben Falcone's most recent drab attempt at humor, let me preface by saying that I actually enjoyed Life of the Party slightly more than I expected. The movie is at its best when boldly unpredictable events begin to steer the story's direction, rather than falling aimlessly into the bland trappings of recycled ideas. Sadly, Life of the Party goes through sequences of both characteristics, where the film astonishes with hilarious unforeseen revelations that lend way to a drubbing of consequential comedic blows, only to succumb to the modern comedy norm of relying on rehashed and re-branded situations that lack authenticity and originality. But despite this unsatisfying unbalance between the film's stronger and weaker elements, what's most alarming is the lazy writing that plagues these characters and their behaviors. Married co-writers, Falcone and McCarthy, gloss over the controversy and conflict with such a disregard of their significance for validity. Yes, we're given brief and wavering glimpses into turmoil such as Deanna's daughter's reservations towards her mom's invasion into her personal life, and her willingness to forgive her mom after some unruly behavior sabotages a momentous occasion. However, these unruly actions are instantly overlooked and forgiven solely for the sake of smoothly transitioning to a less than desirable punchline that fails to propel Life of the Party beyond the stereotypical mundane effort that's helped plague this stage of McCarthy's career.