Jennifer Lopez and Melissa McCarthy Reunite on 'Today' After Wild Dance Party

Melissa Mc Carthy stars in “Life of the Party,” a study in cliche

But, as McCarthy's chipper character might say, darned if "Life of the Party" isn't kind of adorable.

After taking some time to pull herself back together, Deanna decides to do the one thing she always regretted not doing: finish her bachelors degree in archaeology and graduate from college. Example: In an amusingly awkward restaurant sequence, bringing together Deanna with her best friend (Rudolph), the college boy Deanna met at a frat party (Luke Benward, sweetly smitten) and various other characters, there's an outrageous relationship reveal that works like insane with an audience. The film is very much in line with McCarthy's previous collaborations with her writer/director husband Ben Falcone in terms of style, yet its strengths outweigh its flaws at the end of the day. I did this without prior knowledge or checking, not through some great flash of critical insight, but because of a family resemblance that anyone could recognize: "Life of the Party" is a little too much like "Tammy". Predictably, Maddie at first feels mortified to have her mother constantly underfoot, but soon enough, the younger Miles learns to stop worrying and just love the mom. It similarly falls short of McCarthy's collaborations with director Paul Feig on Bridesmaids and Spy, when it comes to character development and the story department. Life of the Party is more polished than the average SNL routine, yet its sense of blocking and pacing within scenes aren't that different from a live TV comedy show. When not focused on tame raucousness and unnecessary nastiness, "Life of the Party" keeps its heart in the right place of sisterly love. How unusual. McCarthy is hilarious in every movie she's in, except in the ones that she and her husband create for her. But before the auto is even off campus grounds, dad tells mom he wants a divorce, he's going to marry another woman, and that she's in real estate and will be selling their home. She will find a nice oaky chardonnay at a frat party; bake a lovely homemade lasagna for her daughter's self-doubting sorority sisters; and yes, maybe bang a 22-year-old in the library stacks until he calls her his "sexual Dumbledore". At Decatur, to be "Life of the Party" (which is the instantly forgettable title of this nearly equally unmemorable campus comedy) is to clear a pretty low bar.


And there are plenty more ingredients: Deanna gets a Goth roommate, Leonor (Heidi Gardner), who chooses staying in her dorm over going to classes; she makes friends with Helen (Gillian Jacobs), who is older than most students there because she was in a coma for eight years; and she becomes mortal enemies with campus mean girl Jennifer (Debby Ryan). Perhaps Falcone and McCarthy think that a movie such as "Life of the Party" gives her a chance to expand her range, but where's the expansion?

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