As you can see in my article here, I was fortunate enough to be able to check out the worldwide premiere of Life of the Party in Auburn, Alabama – of all places, my alma mater!
Like many of Melissa McCarthy‘s films, this movie begins with a down-on-her-luck woman with a hilarious taste in sweaters. However, it also includes her excellent talent of mixing humor and empathy, giving audiences something to laugh along with and something to care about. The film’s female cast really shines, though great performances are also given out by Luke Benward and director Ben Falcone, who has an excellent trademark cameo. Supporting actresses Gillian Jacobs, Adria Arjona, Heidi Garner, Molly Gordon, and Jessie Ennis played particularly well off of each other, giving a humorous atmosphere and a much-needed line of support. This left their relationship with McCarthy’s character feeling fulfilled and without their collective acting, the film would not have had the same anchor it needed to stay afloat. Maya Rudolph also contributed to this sense of unity, delivering lines that would have fallen flat with actresses who have less talent than she. Rudolph was absolutely a perfect choice in her role, and her character was a great connector to McCarthy’s past. All in all, most of the actors and actresses in the film were excellent, though Debby Ryan’s performance seemed particularly stilted and in need of both better lines and practice.
This film was also particularly refreshing because it did not rely on the more exhausting tropes of the genre. While McCarthy’s character does do something that causes tension with her daughter, – and the scene where this happens is an excellent show-stealer – the film does not stretch out its after-effects. Instead, it chooses a more organic resolution. It also does not rely on a separation between McCarthy’s character’s old friend after she makes new ones, instead keeping a long-lasting and positive female friendship. In fact, the female relationships in this film were extremely supportive and wholesome, which is something that a lot of current films tend to bypass. My only critique was that the film sometimes focused overmuch on crueler jokes which did not land, and could have easily been cut, though they are few and far in-between.
However, this film passed the biggest test of all: theater reception. From start to finish, the room was filled with laughter, clapping, and utmost chaos at a particular restaurant scene. It looks like Falcone and McCarthy have created a film which college students and fellow tigers (as the mascots in the movie and Auburn are coincidentally the same) can happily enjoy themselves, even in the most stressful week of the semester.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
Overall, I could tell that both I and the audience around me enjoyed the film. Not only was it engaging and anchored with yet another winning performance from McCarthy, but the film also portrayed a sweet and genuinely touching mother-daughter relationship. This would be a wonderful mother-daughter movie just in time for Mother’s Day!