As Mother’s Day approaches, you can always count on one of the major film studios to come out with a mother-daughter comedy. As more of them are made, the situations become weirder and weirder.
Last year, the movie was “Snatched” with Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn. The mother-daughter duo was kidnapped by a drug cartel and had to escape, but, like, in a cute and funny way, you know?
This year, Warner Brothers brings us “Life of the Party” starring Melissa McCarthy. While the plot in “Life of the Party” is not life or death, it is just about as improbable. It also focuses much more on the mother aspect of the mother-daughter duo.
In the film, Melissa McCarthy (“Gilmore Girls,” “Bridesmaids,” “Mike and Molly”) is Deanna Miles, the stereotypical nerdy stay-at-home mom who is over the moon about her daughter Maddie starting her senior year of college at her parents’ alma mater. Though, technically it is only Deanna’s husband’s alma mater because she became pregnant before her senior year.
As Deanna and her husband, Dan, leave campus Dan blurts out that he wants a divorce. He has fallen in love with a local realtor, played by Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”). Deanna is crushed, and takes a cab to her parents’ house. When she recovers from the initial shock of the news, she decides she is going to go back to school to get her degree. This is where the plot hopes you suspend your disbelief.
Over the course of the film Deanna ends up hanging out with her daughter’s friends and going out to parties with them. Deanna also starts hooking up with a frat bro half her age. Though this part of the plot seems ridiculously improbable, the film does acknowledge that this is not normal, which helps.
If you can manage to go along with these unlikely events, “Life of the Party” has a really good story. Beyond the mother-daughter dynamic, there are great elements of female empowerment and standing up for yourself in relationships.
There are also quite a few famous faces in the movie I was not expecting. Gillian Jacobs (“Love,” “Community”), Maya Rudolph (“Bridesmaids,” “Saturday Night Live”), and Debby Ryan (“Jessie,” “The Suite Life on Deck”) all have supporting roles in the film.
And it’s actually quite funny. Melissa McCarthy and Maya Rudolph both give excellent performances that had the audience cracking up. They dedicate themselves to the roles so deeply that they do genuinely feel like awkward suburban moms. There is also a lot of situational humor that I can’t get into without spoiling too much of the film.
The film also captures the essence of being a confused college student. One of the most relatable scenes for me was after one of Maddie’s sorority sisters attends a job fair. She goes through a bit of a breakdown when she realizes that her studies in kinesthesiology have in no way prepared her to get a job. That existential fear of being unprepared to enter the “real world” is a thing any college kid can relate to.
The movie’s finale pushes the parameters of disbelief even further than the basic plot, but by that time you’ve been watching the film for an hour already and have suspended reality properly.
This movie is definitely for people looking to laugh and not dissect plot holes, like the guys sitting next to me in the theater decided to do as credits rolled. It’s a cute story, and there are some great laughs to be had.