(REVIEW) Melissa McCarthy Has A Winner With “Life of the Party”

Melissa McCarthy’s latest comedy, “Life of the Party” exceeded my expectations. Initially, the film follows Melissa’s frequent slapstick formula of eccentric costumes, big hair and a big stunt where she flips, trips, falls and in this case, catches on fire.

Once we get past those McCarthy prerequisites, the storyline is well developed.

[Note: The following isn’t a spoiler, it’s in the trailer…] After dropping their daughter off for her senior year of college, Dan (Matt Walsh) decides to tell his wife Deanna (McCarthy) that not only has he filed for divorce, he’s already moved on with a local realtor, Helen (Julie Bowen).

In the midst of taking out her frustrations in a boozy game of racquetball with her best friend, Christine, played by the hilarious, Maya Rudolph, Deanna reveals that she regrets not graduating from college due to the fact that she got pregnant with her daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) in her senior year and soon to be ex-Dan, persuaded her to dropout.

While the previews make it seem as if Deanna is just returning to college for the sorority life and frat boys, she’s there for a more purposeful reason; she’s finally ready to put herself first and live her best life. Without giving anything else away, there are definitely several fun surprises that you won’t see coming until you’re laughing in response.

There was a scene in the film where several of the sorority girls were overly emotional about their “problems” which included Debbie (Jessie Ennis) not knowing how to utilize her degree and a stunning gorgeous Amanda (Adria Arjona) not feeling attractive. Insert Deanna with a home cooked meal and pep talk encouraging the girls to really be present in the fact that age, beauty and opportunity was on their side.

At the end of the movie, I left empowered to maximize my youth in my 20s and live my best life without regret. On the contrary, during the screening, I sat next to a guy who just thought the film was “okay”. I was happy to “school him” (see what I did there?) on why “Life of the Party” resonated with me on a deeper level. I know a lot of women like Deanna who’ve realized in their 40s and 50s that they don’t just want to live vicariously through their children and/or their husband’s, they want their own identity and accomplishments. Of course there are a plethora of women who have an excellent work life balance; I’ve taken many meetings with moms who are about their business while having a baby on their hip. In 2018, there are more women than ever who are successful artists, executives, entrepreneurs as well as wives and mothers. However Melissa’s character represented a large demographic of women whose sole identity is their role as a wife and mother. The film was a timely reminder that women don’t have to choose family over career but if you have in the past, it’s never too late to reinvent yourself and follow your dreams.

Just in time for Mother’s Day, there’s so much truth in humor within “Life of the Party”. The film boasts a diverse cast including Asian actor Jimmy O. Yang as Maddie’s love interest, Tyler; Yani Simone (“The Quad”) as mean girl, Trina, and a special shout out to the President of the fictitious school in the film, Decatur University, being a black woman. “Life of the Party” it’s a great mother-daughter film to see and discuss what personal and professional sacrifices did your mother make for you?