Review melissa mccarthy delivers magnetic performance in otherwise generic campus comedy ‘life of the party’ entertainment themonitor.com hp gas online booking hyderabad

“In Life of the Party,” Melissa McCarthy is the incessantly positive, irrepressible shining star amidst an otherwise generic generational comedy about “old” people trying to fit in with the whippersnappers á la “The Internship,” “My Name is Doris,” and of course, “Back to School.”

Its best moments are when McCarthy’s innate charm, underappreciated prowess with physical comedy, and naughty-nice magnetism are put on bubbly display as her character makes up for lost time and missed opportunities; it is largely up to her to sustain our enthusiasm for the story as it unravels towards a bloated and sentimental third act. Unlike the lead character being ever mindful of the luxury of time, the film does not share her mindset.

McCarthy and creative partner/hubby Ben Falcone have written the character of Deanna from a place of middle-aged contemplation and respect. By mid-40s, most adults know who they are in terms of the qualities of their best self – not career goals or bucket lists or achievement points, but what traits they possess and have honed to reach that milestone of self-actualization. These are what sustains us when jobs are lost or homes destroyed in a natural disaster, or sudden illness or marital woes suddenly fling our carefully designed paradigms into disarray. Deanna is faced with a life-altering series of events in a short time, but her inner strength and outer resilience remain steadfast as she overcomes each challenge.

When Deanna and her husband, Dan (Matt Walsh), drop their only child, Maddie (Molly Gordon) off at her senior year of college, their incongruity is evident from the start. Even though Maddie’s school – and both parents’ alma mater – is only twenty miles from home, it is a halcyon world from Deanna’s past that she gave up when she got pregnant during her last year of school. There is no bitterness in her, however; rather, she is extremely close with Maddy and appreciates her life as a wonderful gift. Dan, however, just sees the expense of tuition and doesn’t even wish his daughter farewell or luck. Soon after leaving campus, he tells his wife he wants a divorce and that he is seeing another woman, a successful realtor. Naturally, Deanna is crushed and shocked, not so much mourning the jarring absence of a selfish and neglectful husband than the loss of an illusion of reality and the sacrifices made to maintain that illusion.

With the support of her parents (sandwich-making Jackie Weaver and trigger-happy Stephen Root) and nutty best friend Christine (Maya Rudolph), Deanna refuses to hide or falter when Dan threatens to sell the house, which is in his name. Instead, she enrolls in her old university and is by far the most spirited, enthusiastic senior to traverse the quad. Every moment she is on school grounds is one to treasure, a perspective only an older student, one who has been out in the real world for a while and has returned from the fray to the cozy nook of academia, can possess. For her 22-year-old schoolmates, the world and its possibilities are infinite; as a 40-something woman, Deanna is coming from a place where her viability and opportunities are seen as finite, yet she refuses to be walked over or left behind.

Rather than being a remake of the classic 1986 Rodney Dangerfield campus comedy, Life of the Party differs in both the lead character’s motivation and resources at hand. While Rodney’s character was a wealthy businessman joining his son in college as a bonding experience rather than an academic goal (until the very end), Melissa’s character is faced with both a financial and emotional upheaval, and her return to school brings both mental and spiritual rejuvenation.

It is this pluck and tenacity that appeal to much of the kids on campus, including Maddie’s sorority sisters Helen (Gillian Jacobs), Debbie (Jessie Ennis), and Amanda (Adria Arjona), and Jack (Luke Benward), a friend of Maddie’s boyfriend Tyler (Jimmy O. Yang) who is instantly smitten. Being a school-centered comedy, there are the requisite mean girls (Debby Ryan and Yani Simone) but their catty comments are older and more tired than the woman they attempting to insult, thus they never pose much of a threat beyond boredom, especially compared to funnier and more finely drawn characters such as former coma patient Helen, whose appreciation of college life and reclaimed youth is even more personal than Deanna’s, and the delightfully weird Leonor, played to deadpan hilarity by Heidi Gardner as Deanna’s dorm roommate who may or may not be Voldemort.

Falcone and McCarthy capitalize on Deanna’s escapades at parties and sorority initiation, wild trysts in the library and dance-offs to The Sugarhill Gang, each allowing the actress to display two traits rarely seen in mature female comedic roles: slapstick and sexuality. Deanna doesn’t have to work up to these points; rather, they seem to have been dormant in marriage with a partner that was both incompetent and insensitive. She even admits that “it felt like my brain’s been in a freezer.” There is some hesitation and initial awkwardness on Maddie’s part to include her mom with her friends, but wisely this does not become about a spoiled child craving attention. Instead, it allows for both mother and daughter to see each other outside of their familial roles and as intelligent, caring people and girlfriends.

To Dan, the divorce is part of a life upgrade: better look (he wears a ridiculous earring and starts working out), thinner and more financially successful partner (Julie Bowen, obviously loving her role as a vicious, emasculating ice queen). Steadily, Bowen’s character starts overtaking the new relationship, further exposing Dan as a flaccid weakling devoid of any depth. Its hard to see how Deanna could not have sensed the impending divorce when friends and family admittedly could, seeing as how Dan was never a positive character.

To Deanna, life becomes a do-over and she gets a fresh start, also recharging her appearance but not so much to become “better” as to allow her natural appeal to shine through. While Dan’s outward changes scream mid-life crisis, Deanna’s show mid-life celebration as her hair and makeup are softened and her layers of clothes are reduced to illuminate her figure (no expensive shopping-spree makeovers – these are from her own wardrobe, just worn a different way). In contrast to Dan’s new lover, Deanna doesn’t try to change her besotted, virile paramour, and as tempting as his offers of a relationship are, her self-preservation and commitments come first.

While the mean-girl moments were too numerous and hollow to make a real impact, a magic mushroom scene went on too long, and an impromptu concert at the end felt forced, the real magic of the movie is when Deanna and the girls stick together through the fun times and the rough moments, when we forget she is supposed to be an outsider and instead becomes a nexus of energy and light, strengthening herself while her former spouse struggles to hold on to an already tenuous identity.