Life of the Party: C
Melissa McCarthy is a tour-de-force. Whether she's stealing scenes in "Bridesmaids," "The Heat" or delighting us as the lead in "Spy," you can't ignore this woman is seriously funny. And yes, there are some seriously funny scenes in "Life of the Party," but not enough to make a great movie, and this is the great disappointment with this female driven comedy. McCarthy wrote the film along with hubby Ben Falcone. The plot is rather simple: Husband asks for divorce, because he's found someone new. Scorned wife goes back to school to get her degree. Did I mention her daughter goes to that school? So, instead of keeping her distance, she hangs out with her daughter and her daughter's sorority sisters. That includes the standard frat parties, loaded chocolate treats and walks of shame. Some of this would have been more likable if it wasn't so superficial.
McCarthy knows what women think and what they like. It's evident throughout the film, and she should be applauded for putting out a film that moms and daughters can watch together without a lot of bad language and gross out jokes, but the problem is what it lacks — originality. Back-to-school stories are not new, and this one doesn't break new ground. When one starts a romance with a younger man, there's usually a connection beyond "I like wine too." The scenes with the Cruella-ish husband stealer, while aptly played by Julie Bowen, are just what you expect. No surprise, no nuance. A creative writing teacher probably would hand this script back and would write in red ink, "C, go back and write this again. I expect more from you."