Life of the Party (3 stars)

Life of the Party

Melissa McCarthy co-writes and stars in this lightweight but crowd-pleasing comedy

'I'm down to clown!' announces Melissa McCarthy's Deanna in Life of the Party, a lightweight time-passer which should satisfy fans who fondly recall the star's wholesome Gilmore Girls breakthrough. Short on the regrettable outbreaks of crudeness and silliness that marred Tammy and The Boss, McCarthy's script, co-written with director / husband Ben Falcone, may be pure froth, but at least there's a positive representation of women behind the comedy.

After her daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) begins her studies at Decatur University, Deanna (McCarthy) is abruptly divorced by her husband and replaced by a younger woman. Determined to regain her self-esteem, Deanna enrolls as an archeology student at the same university, hoping to complete the degree she gave up to become a mother. A Gothic roommate who fears human contact, a fling with a boy half her age, plus periodic bursts of nervousness all stand between Deanna and her graduation.

McCarthy has formidable comic talents and Life of the Party provides a strong platform at times; uniting her with her Bridesmaids' co-star Maya Rudolph strikes notable sparks, particularly when they are belligerently facing up to her husband's new wife. Maddie's friends are also better drawn than expected, with Heidi Gardner and Gillian Jacobs encouraged to score laughs on their own. And it's notable that Deanna's relationship with Jack (Luke Benward) is handled with some tact, there's no demonising of a woman for her sexuality.

There's not much more to Life of the Party beyond McCarthy taking part in a vigorous dance-off to The Sugarhill Gang's 80s floor-filler 'Apache'. Some critics may carp, but McCarthy and Falcone know their audience well, and anyone who signs up for some gentle Bad Moms-type laughs, a little feel-good motivational syrup, and a climax involving a musical cameo from Christina Aguilera will find what they desire present and correct.

General release from Fri 11 May.

Life of the Party

  • 3 stars
  • 2018
  • US
  • 1h 45min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Ben Falcone
  • Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Gillian Jacobs, Adria Arjona, Maya Rudolph
  • UK release: 11 May 2018

When Deanna (McCarthy) is abruptly divorced by her husband, she decides to enrol in her daughter’s university to complete the degree she gave up. Frothy comedy which provides a welcome reunion of McCarthy and Rudolph, and fine work from Gardner and Jacobs; lightweight fun.