Melissa McCarthy shines as the enjoyable Life of the Party

Molly Gordon, Jesse Ennis and Melissa McCarthy star in Life of the Party, directed by Ben Falcone. Warner Brothers Photo

Vicky Sparks

Imagine after raising a lovely daughter, after helping her through high school and the teenage years, you drop her off at college for her senior year.

To celebrate this final stage of empty-nesting you and your husband of 23 years plan a four-week vacation to Italy! Life is perfect.

But as you pull away from daughter’s residence, your husband turns to you, looks you in the eyes and says he wants a divorce. What?!

So begins Melissa McCarthy’s latest film, Life of the Party. Shell shocked and heartbroken by her husband’s revelation, McCarthy’s Deanna takes a hard look at her life and realizes what she regrets most is dropping out of college before completing her final year (she was pregnant and her husband decided she didn’t really need to finish).

What better way to get her life back on track than to go back to school? And who better to do it with than her daughter!

Now, this is a fairly ridiculous premise, but it‘s a credit to McCarthy’s innate likeability that the movie not only works but also is hilarious.

Surrounded by a team of young actresses, McCarthy puts on a master class in physical comedy. Watching her character come into her own and discover the skills and talents she’s ignored so long is inspiring (I know it sounds cheesy but see the movie and tell me you weren’t just a little bit proud of her).

Rounding out the cast are Maya Rudolph as McCarthy’s number one BFF, Matt Walsh as the horrible husband and Julie Bowen as a local realtor.

The film is directed by McCarthy’s husband Ben Falcone and it’s his most successful effort yet (much better than the disappointing Tammy). Keep an eye out for his sweet cameo as an Uber driver.

The young actresses rounding out McCarthy’s college experience are sweet but fairly forgettable. This isn’t their fault because it’s hard to see anyone but McCarthy when she’s on screen.

Rudolph proves once again she is criminally underused and one of the funniest women in the game.

The film features a mother and daughter who actually like each other, which is a welcome change from the standard movie duos riddled with complications.

Take your mom, gather your girlfriends — this is a movie that celebrates female relationships and will make you cry laughing along the way.

 

Vicky Sparks is a Bright’s Grove native and movie critic for Global TV’s The Morning Show, which airs nationally on Fridays. Her Journal Reviews cover movies playing at Galaxy Cinemas Sarnia