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Film Review: In ‘Life of the Party,’ Melissa McCarthy Returns to College for Another Round of Laughs

May 11, 2018Britany Murphy

Many will remember heading to university for the first time. And for many, it probably wasn't an easygoing experience. Whether we we're feeling nervous, skeptical, homesick, awkward or a myriad of other emotions, however, we most likely didn't have to deal with the fact that our mothers would be joining us as a student in our senior year. But that is just what Maddie Miles (Molly Gordon) has to deal with when her mom, Deanna (Melissa McCarthy), re-enrolls at Decatur University.

Deanna is your average, loving and slightly over-protective mother. After dropping Maddie off for her final year of college and about to embark on a four-week trip to Italy with her husband, Dan (Matt Walsh), Deanna believes she's about to enter a new and awesome life adventure. But of course, what's life without a giant curveball? This is just what Deanna gets when Dan unexpectedly tells her that he wants a divorce.

With her life thrown for a loop, Deanna leans on her parents, Sandy (Jacki Weaver) and Mike (Stephen Root), and best friend, Christine (Maya Rudolph), for support, as she tries to find the best way to tell Maddie. But one decision that Deanna does make for herself is to go back to college and pursue the degree she did not finish when she found out she was pregnant with her daughter. When Deanna finally musters the courage to tell Maddie about the divorce and enrolling in college, however, the young woman is not too keen about the idea of attending the same school as her mother. And to be honest, can we blame her?

Together, the mother-daughter duo has to learn how to coexist in the same space, which includes Maddie sharing her mom with her sorority sisters, Helen (Gillian Jacobs), Amanda (Adria Arjona) and Debbie (Jessie Ennis). While Maddie is adjusting, Deanna tries her best to do the same, navigating the ways of her quirky roommate, Leonor (Heidi Gardner), her college classes and a potential romance with a fraternity brother named Jack (Luke Benward), with hilarious results.

McCarthy is once again a comedic ace in her role as Deanna Miles. With impeccable comedic timing, hilarity ensues every moment she's on-screen. Equally brilliant are her cast members. Maya Rudolph is a riot as Christine and is definitely the scene-stealer with what limited time she has. The dynamic between McCarthy and Rudolph is reminiscent of the chemistry the two had as co-stars back in 2011's Bridesmaids, and definitely accounts for many of the film's most memorable moments.

Written by McCarthy and her real-life husband, Ben Falcone, who also directs, Life of the Party not only provides the audience with laughs, but reminds them that it is never too late to achieve your goals, whatever they may be. It speaks to the power of friends and family and the ability to pick oneself back up after a struggle. But where the movie hits its best mark is by providing the viewers with a group of characters who have flaws and who are relatable, while still managing to make you laugh.

Life of the Party releases May 11th, 2018 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for sexual material, drug content and partying. Its runtime is 1 hr. 45 min.

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