If you’ve ever watched a friend suffer through a truly horrendous train-wreck of a moment in their life and have been powerless to do anything other than sit back and grit your teeth in sympathy, you’ll have an idea of what it’s like to sit through Melissa McCarthy’s latest movie.
I’m throwing in that friendship caveat because my dislike of this film has nothing to do with the woman herself; with one Ms Melissa Ann McCarthy – comedy legend, sublime actress and the kind of chick you can imagine having the best kind of in-depth chat with over a jug of margaritas.
In this case, it is the movie Life of the Party, and not McCathy, that has failed us all.
Melissa McCarthy stars as Deanna Miles, a dedicated housewife and mother who is brutally dumped by her husband of more than 20 years just moments after they drop their daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) off for her senior year of college.
Since she was forced to drop out of college before her own graduation to raise her daughter and support her husband, Deanna decides to jump back into the higher learning fray alongside her daughter so she can finally finish her degree.
Life of the Party was co-written by McCarthy and her real-life husband Ben Falcone, who also served as director.
This is where things also start to get a little strange.
When filming TV interviews together, Falcone and McCarthy always give off a particular kind of hilarious and love-filled magic, and with their joint comic timing and knack for colourful storytelling at play this movie should have been a slam-dunk.
Instead, it is a bedraggled mess of movie cliches, undeveloped characters and half-baked storytelling.
The kind of movie that, even if you were on a plane with a screaming child on one side and a belligerent drunk on the other, you’d still opt to read the faecal-covered in-flight magazine tucked down the side of your seat rather than suffer through this jarring film.
The idea that you can start your life over at any age, even during the the hardest of moments, is a good one. Yet it’s not an idea that is executed with any grace or ingenuity here.
Take a look at the trailer for Life of The Party and see what you make of this movie.
Deanna herself is a somewhat bland character, one who is able to totter aimlessly through her college scenes without managing to do the one thing she’s there to convince the audience to do – root for her.
She doesn’t even come to the party long enough to be considered a fish out of water. She’s just a fish who was plucked from the sea and then thrown back into the harsh waters without even being included in a celebratory fishing photo.
The problem with Life of the Party is not that the premise is flimsy or uninteresting.
A movie with a great cast and a stellar script can override even the most basic of story-lines (if you don’t believe me on this, I urge you to revisit the cinematic masterpiece that is Snakes On A Plane) but this movie does not offer up either of those things.
Instead, every single character in this movie comes across like a cardboard cutout with the motivations of an underwritten cartoon villain in a Saturday morning kid’s special.
There is a gaggle of college girls in Maddie’s friendship group who function as Deanna’s cheer squad, yet none of them are fully formed enough to entice us to care about the plot development or to elicit any sort of emotional response.
They are not even memorable enough to warrant me remembering their names, so I’ll just call them The One Everyone Thinks Is Hot and Dumb, The One With Red Hair and Issues and The One Who Was in A Coma For Eight Years (that last character actually gets in a few good lines, mostly because she’s played by the brilliant Gillian Jacobs, but even her comedic timing is not enough to save this).
To make matters even more eye-roll inducing, the film is also littered with the kind of charterers who are usually found wondering around the halls of a B-grade, 90s high school rom-com.
I’m talking stereotypical mean girls who exist within the plot solely to antagonise our hero, with no character motivation or explanation given for their horrendous behaviour.
Yes, there are are horrible people in this world, but is it really plausible that a young women in her senior year of college would go out of her way to be overtly catty to a new women who walks into the classroom simply for the sake of it?
I don’t think it’s a real spoiler to say that everything in the movie kinda turns out all right in the end, but honestly, there are no real winners here.
From the actors who had to partake in this flimsy excuse for a comedy from the audience members who have to sit through it, it really sets the bar lower when it comes to the level of smarts we’ve come to expect from modern comedy.
But perhaps the biggest travesty of all is the way Melissa McCarthy is all tied up in this mess of a movie.
However, despite this unfortunate turn in a forgettable flick, she’s still one of the greatest comedic actresses of our time,and I’m not ready to give up on her just yet.
Life of the Party is in cinemas Australia-wide now. It is rated M.
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