Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!
Life of the Party
Comedy is a difficult medium to work in. Being consistently funny is really tough so I have a lot of respect for anyone who can maintain the funny, especially if it’s year after year as Melissa McCarthy has done. The story of an older person returning to college has been done before, with Rodney Dangerfield’s obviously titled Back to School in 1986. Many comedies have mined the college campus for humor, even as far back as Horse Feathers in 1932. The one thing all of these movies have in common is the ongoing joke of having an older person stuck in with a bunch of young college students.
Life of the Party is all about that joke, telling the story of happy mom Deanna, who is dropping off her daughter for the next school year and doesn’t make it off campus before her husband suddenly dumps her so he can marry a younger woman. After a brief period of mourning, Deanna decides to resume her education, which had been cut short to marry the dufus who just dumped her.
Of course she must move into a dorm, where she encounters her most goth of all time roommate, goes to a frat party where she tries unsuccessfully to order chardonnay, finds a young stud, goes to a huge party, and locks horns with the campus mean girl. You know, all the usual things that are done in going-back-to-school movie.
Every little bit of it was hilariously done, I thought, though a lot of the college issues were completely unbelievable. I know, because I work at a university, that you can’t just come back and start up again. But most people don’t know that so who really cares, right? The strongest part of the movie is that, while of course every character changes (because that’s what is supposed to happen in a movie), no one makes a total 180 degree reversal. Instead of the joke hammering on people making one bonehead move after another because there’s an old person on campus, it’s all about people knocking up against the standard issues and adversities and getting past them while retaining their core persona. Yes, Deanna goes to the frat party with her daughter and tries to order a white wine, but on finding none goes with the flow and downs shots of tequila with her new friends who *gasp* like her because she’s a likeable person. She does find a handsome young beau and instead of everyone being embarrassed, she embraces the actual adoration of her young suitor, as does her daughter.
That’s what I loved most about Life of the Party. People like the mom, including the daughter, who only has a couple of nervous moments but is always loving to her mom. They have a great relationship that doesn’t have to go through the whole OH You’re So Old And In College With Me How Embarrassing stuff. She loves her mom and does so through the whole film. Her friends love her mom and do so through the movie. That’s unfortunately unusual in a Hollywood movie, and much appreciated by me.
I recommend seeing Life of the Party because it takes a somewhat tired trope and presents it in a very funny and fresh way, without all the mean spirited angst of the normal going back to school humor. We laughed a lot while watching it, and just rolled our eyes at the stuff you really can’t do in college (like go most of the way through the semester without paying for it – they want their money up front). Pay attention in the racquetball scene. We could tell the two balcony Muppet geezers commenting outside the court must have been important but couldn’t place them. Turns out, it’s McCarthy’s and her husband’s dads.
LIFE OF THE PARTY – Official Trailer 1