Kill me. Just effin’ kill me.
Dearest congregation, if you have been following me for some time, you know I have seen some truly, detestable films in the couple of years I’ve been doing this reviewing gig. Films that are bereft of any redeeming qualities whatsoever, films that genuinely feel like torture to sit through. And I usually figure out I’m watching an absolute dumpster fire anywhere in the first 20 minutes of screen time. But for today’s film? I had a feeling things were going to go south in the first four minutes, before the film decided to say, “Hold on to your butt,” and plunged me into a level of Hell I never had anticipated. And keep in mind, I have sat through many a Melissa McCarthy dreck before, but this project? Hands down, it’s the worst one. Yes, worse than Tammy.
So McCarthy plays Deanna, a doting mother with a daughter (Molly Gordon) in her senior-year of college and an uncaring husband (Matt Walsh). When her husband unexpectedly divorces her after cheating with another woman, Deanna looks back on her life with regret that she never finished college in order to raise her daughter, Maddie. Deciding to right the wrong, she re-enrolls in her daughter’s college to get a degree in archaeology (because movie logic) and quickly integrates herself in the typical college life of drinking, partying, studying, and rewinding the clock by about 22 years as she finds meaning in her life once more…oh wait sorry, that’s what the movie intended for the plot to be. Really it’s just a Melissa McCarthy vehicle to deliver terrible joke after terrible joke while prat-falling everywhere she goes. There, that’s a much more accurate description for this horse carcass.
Sweet Jimmy Cricket’s Christmas Carol, this film is goddamn garbage. Barely any of the written jokes work, it’s simply Melissa McCarthy trying to improvise on set and creating a less interesting and more chaotic film as a result of which. McCarthy doesn’t have a character, just a name and a situation for her to drop lame puns for nearly two hours while also finding time to get into “wacky” hijinks involving pot-chocolate, drinking, sorority initiations, and all the other college traditions but taking the tamest and safest route with every possible joke imaginable. On top of that, McCarthy’s penchant for improvisation leads to numerous script inconsistencies throughout the production that I really need to get off my chest, because of just how amateurish the entire film feels.
See at one point in the first act, McCarthy makes a Harry Potter reference to appeal to her daughter’s sorority sisters, but then completely doesn’t get another Harry Potter reference when it’s made to her. Is the inconsistency there to hint at some desire to become pop-cultre savvy but failing miserably? Nope, it’s just lazy writing. Just like when her character literally sweats through her pants at one point in the movie because she’s so terrified of public speaking when two scenes earlier she was jumping around and dancing, including doing the worm. Which REMINDS me: she kept complaining throughout the film about how her joints aren’t what they used to be, and yet she spends the majority of the film performing multiple strenuous activities without a hitch and…no, stop. Do not write in the comments what I know you’re going to write. You might think, “Oh come on Chris, stop being such a nitpicky dickhead, it’s just a silly comedy, who cares?”
I give a damn because I want to highlight the good comedies and discourage the bad comedies. The good comedy sets up likable characters with funny situations for the protagonists to overcome, the bad comedy lazily shows up with a brain dead premise alongside unlikable characters and expects you to be impressed because they have big name stars attached to the project. And Life of the Party falls squarely into the latter category because nothing was thought out. Not Melissa McCarthy’s jokes, not the lame and uninteresting farcical moves, and certainly not her amorphous character. It’s bad enough that McCarthy can’t salvage this mess, but it’s compounded when the supporting cast are also dropping bombs everywhere.
As stated previous, the girl portraying McCarthy’s daughter is abysmal. She needs to give multiple emotional outbursts in the production that come as a result of arguing with her mother, and every single one of them fall flat on their ass. Maybe it’s because I was spoiled with a fantastic interplay between mother and daughter in Lady Bird, but then I remember that Molly Gordon delivers every single line in a deadpan monotone that wasn’t meant to be funny, but just comes across as awkward and confused. Granted it’s possible this was the fault of the director, Ben Falcone, who is also Melissa McCarthy’s husband and is also responsible for many of his wife’s theatrical failures including Tammy and The Boss. This guy cannot reign anybody in his cast in, nor can he find the laughs in his comedies, so he flubs it every time with amateur set direction and very badly timed jokes with awkward delivery.
It’s why I can’t entirely be down on Gordon or McCarthy (except for the latter’s insistence on taking these piss poor scripts), and I especially can’t be mad at Gillian Jacobs, who plays as one of the college girls in the sorority McCarthy’s daughter is a part of. “Now wait a minute,” you ponder, “wasn’t Gillian Jacobs also playing an older woman going back to college in Community for several years?” An astute observation dear reader, one that I’m sure the director must have also realized which is why Jacobs portrays a character called “Coma Girl” as she only recently re-enrolled in college after staying in a come for 8 years. “Oh…does this joke lead to anything significant,” you inquire. And the answer is a resounding, “Fuck no,” because all it’s used for is a throwaway gag in which Jacobs’ character has a huge Twitter following the protagonists can take advantage of when they inevitably have to raise money to complete Melissa McCarthy’s tuition following her ex-husband cutting off her tuition. Oh yes, people, they band together for an epic party to save the fucking rec center. Do you see how utterly pointless and predictable this shit is yet?!
I’m not going to even bother detailing how nonsensical the last third of this film is, because it’s a conflict with an easy solution that the film flagrantly ignores every possible friggin’ way this problem could have been sorted in favor of the most tired of tropes. The fact that a celebrity cameo is what is ultimately used to resolve this stupid trope is what tips this film over into the lowest of low ratings for me.
So no, I’m not giving this SOME OL’ BULLSHIT, because this movie straight up pissed me the hell off. The only appropriate rating is…
FUCK THIS MOVIE
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