Life of the Party: McCarthy’s Warmest Role to Date

Life of the Party may not have bested Marvel at the box office (what can?) when it came out, and it may have a Rotten rating online, but in a world where feature films are destined to repeat through long suburban weekends, couch potatoes will be the victors: Life of the Party is a warm, friendship-fueled comedy.

Caveat: it’s not for everyone; if the idea of sharing a college campus with your mother sends you to your therapist, you can sit this one out. But McCarthy has a lot in common with my own mother, who also wears collared sweatshirts, and if getting a Tupperware full of cookies and a bottle of aspirin for your next hangover doesn’t sound so bad, strap in!

Written by McCarthy and Ben Falcone, her husband, and directed by Falcone, Party follows in the wake of The Boss and TammyParty brings a lot of the same elements we’re used to in a McCarthy comedy: big hair, silly get-ups, strong, painful physical comedy, and jokes about vaginas. For this round, though, there’s less pain, more emotional nuance (ah, Tammy, nuance will always elude you!), and almost no profanity.

The premise is simple: a suburban housewife returns to campus to finish her last year of college in the wake of a sudden, painful divorce and begins to pal around with her daughter and the girl’s friends. Gen Z may not seem to need a lecture on the importance of self-preservation but learn this lesson well: Do not drop out of college when you get married. Do not let your partner convince you that their financial and social worth is more than yours.

From there, it’s a steady incline as Deanna rebuilds her confidence, faith in self, and finds a new lease a new life. It’s great! The jokes are smart, the film is funny, and Deanna rarely stoops to the level of the bullies around her. (They’re everywhere! Deanna’s ex-husband marries a mean lady, played by Julie Bowen, and Disney star Debby Ryan taunts Deanna on campus.)

Life of the Party deserved to find a stronger audience. The world we live in is increasingly fraught with violence and anxiety, and a rated-R comedy about a nice lady doing her best and owning quickly and honestly to her faults is a refreshing respite that is desperately needed. See Life of the Party mid-day at your local theater. You deserve it.

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