McCoy on Movies: Life of the Party

McCoy on Movies: Life of the Party

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Melissa McCarthy brings college-bound comedy to the big screen, but is Life of the Party a fab fête or a Greek tragedy? Read on to see what our movie critic says.


“Hi – I’m every Midwestern mom you’ve ever seen in a Hollywood movie where I get to smile!” Deanna (Melissa McCarthy) shows her school spirit in a scene from Warner Bros. new comedy LIFE OF THE PARTY. Credit: Hopper Stone. © 2018 Warner Bros. Pictures. All rights reserved.



KEY CAST MEMBERS: Melissa McCarthy, Molly Gordon, Maya Rudolph, Julie Bowen, Gillian Jacobs, Stephen Root, Debby Ryan, Jimmy O. Yang, Chris Parnell, Luke Benward, Adria Arjona, Sarah Baker, Matt Walsh, Heidi Gardner and Jessie Ennis

WRITER(S): Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone

DIRECTOR(S): Ben Falcone 


HERE’S THE STORY: Deanna (Melissa McCarthy) is having a great time; her daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) is starting her final year of college and she is set to go on a dream vacation to Italy with her husband Dan (Matt Walsh). 

Then Dan tells her she wants a divorce and her world is turned completely upside down.

Buoyed by her best friend Christine (Maya Rudolph), Deanna decides to overcome her sadness about her marriage ending by righting the one thing she’s always regretted: Not finishing her college degree by going back to school with her daughter. But as she will soon find out, being a college student in her 40s is going to be even wilder than it was when she was in her 20s … Especially if her daughter’s friends have anything to say about it.  

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Melissa McCarthy fans; Mike & Molly fans; Lifetime movie fans

WHO WON’T (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People hoping for something more like McCarthy’s earlier work; many adult males who will have nothing to relate or latch on to; people who will be bored by the film’s cute but simplistic nature. 

SO IS IT GOOD, BAD OR JUST AWFUL? Released in time for Mother’s Day, Life of the Party could best be described as a simple but cute comedy, or, more descriptively, an inspirational comedy … If the Lifetime Network made comedies where some man didn’t murder a woman.

McCarthy, who co-wrote the movie with her husband and the film’s director Ben Falcone (who continues his short but effective cameo streak), must have had a very specific target audience in mind when creating Life of the Party: late 30s to early 50s age suburbanite women who have young daughters they want to bond with – because nearly every scene in the film feels like one big mother-daughter field trip with a few laughs here and there for good measure. Nothing like any of her previous efforts save for the forgettable Tammy, Life of the Party is cute, fun in parts … But lacks anything than its overt, sappy charm to make it last once you’ve left the theater. 

The side characters are fairly one-dimensional but somewhat fun sidekicks, the story is easily digestible and again, McCarthy makes her character relatable as she has a fairly common story. But there again lies the issue as the film itself feels rather common, right down to its cut-and-paste ending. Maya Rudolph gets to serve as most of the film’s comic relief, even though she doesn’t seem to be allowed to take it as far as she could.

And that’s the underlying tragedy of Life of the Party: Despite all the scenarios where McCarthy and company find themselves in that would lend to more outrageous, more comedic moments, much of the film feels restrained so it can stick to a PG-13 rating. There is a much funnier, much more heartfelt movie waiting to get out of Life of the Party, but since the film would be more accurately named “Life of the Afternoon Brunch Party,” it sadly never materialized.

Consider going to this party if you need a simple outing for your mom or middle-aged friend … Otherwise, this classic movie scene might sum up how this party may feel for anyone else. 




Tabari McCoy
Columnist - Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. An award-winning stand-up comedian who also works as the public relations director at Cincinnati Museum Center, Tabari McCoy is the creator of McCoy on Movies, a blog about movies for film fans. The blog is written by someone who also likes movies that is smart enough to know his opinion isn't always the right one but is willing to express that opinion in public. McCoy also used to review movies for his college paper and a major metropolitan publication, so that helps add to his "street cred." Contact him at You can also check out more of his work on his blog at and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy.