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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Life of the Party (Blu-ray)
Life of the Party (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. // PG-13 // August 7, 2018 // Region Free
List Price: $33.17 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted September 4, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
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THE FILM:

I think Melissa McCarthy is plenty funny. She also makes too many movies. Who does she think she is, Nicolas Cage? When you have starred in 18 movies in the last decade, with two more on the way in 2019, there are bound to be misfires. Life of the Party is an example, and is one of the weakest comedies starring McCarthy to date. This Ben Falcone-directed dud unspools amid a fatal identity crisis. The film at once wants to be a "girl power" family drama, a crude frat-house comedy, and an earnest mother-daughter relationship tearjerker. That last characterization may be overselling the film's sincerity a bit, but Life of the Party cannot find a consistent tone, nor can it find any genuine laughs amid the uneven pratfalls and relationship building.

Deanna Miles (McCarthy) and husband Dan (Matt Walsh) drop off their daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) for her senior year at Decatur University in Atlanta. On the drive home, Dan blindsides Deanna by telling her he wants a divorce and that he is cheating on her with realtor Marcie (Julie Bowen). The couple has been married for decades, and Deanna does everything for Dan and Maddie. She even dropped out of college when she got pregnant to become a permed, sweater-wearing housewife. After visiting her parents (Stephen Root and Jacki Weaver), Deanna decides she will take back her life and go back to school. Unfortunately, this decision does not lead to the hilarity of Rodney Dangerfield going Back to School and instead becomes a monotonous, grating 90 minutes of McCarthy staging lame PG-13 pratfalls.

McCarthy tends to benefit from solid direction (Paul Feig in The Heat), strong co-stars (Sandra Bullock in The Heat and Kristen Wiig in Ghostbusters), and, often, the freedom to perform under the umbrella of an R rating. She does not have any of those things here, and Life of the Party makes little impression other than to bore viewers. Her character here is also incredibly annoying, and it is hard to blame Dan for leaving such a nagging, pushy helicopter mom. The fault for that lies with co-writers Falcone and McCarthy, and their script feels like an episode of a Disney Channel tween drama with more adult content. Deanna's moping is not entertaining, nor is her transformation into party mom "Dee Rock." I also cannot help but think the girls in Maddie's sorority would have tired of Deanna in about five minutes in the real world.

Among the plot threads that are especially unfunny are Maya Rudolph's character arc as Christine Davenport, Deanne's alcoholic and neurotic friend that joins her in poor decision making. The normally funny Rudolph is even more annoying than McCarthy here. The film also sees Deanna sleep with college student Jack (Luke Benward), who is one of Maddie's friends. This uncomfortable recurring joke sees the pair banging in the library and flirting at a dinner with Jack's parents. That kind of crude material then slams into unnecessarily sentimental scenes between Deanna, Maddie and the other sorority girls that simply do not work. Nothing in this movie works, really. The cast is largely talented but totally wasted, the direction is non-existent, and the script and action are totally pedestrian. Even fans of McCarthy may want to sit this one out.

THE BLU-RAY:

PICTURE:

The 2.40:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image is expectedly sharp and clear. Although the movie does not have much visual flair, the Blu-ray's transfer is not to blame. Fine-object details like facial features and fabric textures are abundant, and wide shots are crisp and clean. Black levels are inky, colors are nicely saturated, and highlights do not bloom. Other than some minor aliasing and black crush, there is little to complain about with this image. Compression artifacts are not an issue, either, as Warner Brothers gives this image a heftier-than-normal bitrate.

SOUND:

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is appropriate for this light, comedic material. While the dialogue is usually delivered from the center channel, it is at all times clear and without distortion. The pop-music score is appropriately integrated and makes use of the LFE. There are light ambient effects like crowd and party noise that surround the viewer when appropriate. There are English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks included, too, alongside English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.

PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:

This two-disc set includes the Blu-ray, a DVD and an HD digital copy. The discs are packed in an eco-case that is wrapped in a slipcover. Extras include 80's Party (4:51/HD), about the campus party depicted in the film; Mom Sandwich (2:45/HD), about Falcone and McCarthy's real parents; Deleted Scenes (46:36 total/HD); Line-O-Rama (3:02/HD); Bill Hate-O-Rama (2:44/HD); a Gag Reel (5:25/HD) and bonus trailers.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Melissa McCarthy is a funny lady, but Life of the Party is not a funny movie. This dud of a comedy cannot settle on a tone, mixing crude humor with melodrama and "girl power" moments between McCarthy and her on-screen daughter. The poor writing and direction leave the film devoid of laughs and unexpectedly boring. Skip It.

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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