Life of the Party

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Life of the Party Movie Poster Image
Talented cast can't save rowdy comedy; lots of drinking.
  • PG-13
  • 2018
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Alongside sometimes-racy humor, movie emphasizes the need for women to finish school (if they want to) and not allow men or circumstances to deter them. A definite empowerment theme; emphasizes importance of supporting and encouraging one another rather than criticizing and judging. Explores power of mother-adult child relationships.

Positive role models & representations

Deanna is patient, generous, loving, selfless. She loves her daughter and the sorority sisters she cares for while they're in school together. As her roommate says, "you're a good lady." The movie isn't particularly diverse, but Maddie's boyfriend is Asian American, and a supporting character is black. Deanna makes a few immature choices, but she ends up learning from her actions. Maddie is hesitant at first but helps her mother fit into school.

Violence

Character accidentally shoots his gun at a wall, near where a dog was sitting. A woman hit in the crotch with a ball during racquetball. Physical comedy of Deanna falling, being hit with a paddle during sorority initiation, etc. Drunk/high women destroy a wedding reception hall. Two young women get in a fight; they push, hit, pull on each other. Helen was in a coma for eight years.

Sex

Many racy jokes/references to sex, particularly regarding Deanna hooking up with Jack. Characters talk about a "walk of shame" Deanna shares with her daughter.

Language

Occasional swearing/insult language includes "s--t," "s--t show," "son of a bitch," "ass," "a--hole," "pathetic," "shut up," "what the hell," "damn," "mom boob," "loser," and "oh my God!"

Consumerism

Ford, Apple, MacBook, iPhone, Lexus, Toyota, Webster's Dictionary, Harry Potter references, Suburban, Uber, Kendra Scott jewelry.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Lots of fraternity parties where Deanna, sorority sisters (some of whom are presumably underage, though most are seniors) go to party, drink a lot, dance. Drinking is sometimes to excess -- shots of tequila, drinking games, beer, wine. Deanna and her best friend drink while they play racquetball; one has seven bottles of whatever they're drinking. Several young women accidentally eat marijuana-infused chocolate bark; they get very high afterward.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Life of the Party is a comedy starring Melissa McCarthy as a newly divorced woman who joins her daughter at college to finish her undergraduate degree. While not as raunchy as movies like BlockersBad Moms, or even Bridesmaids, the movie does explore a May-December romance (McCarthy's character hooks up with an eager frat boy who's half her age). It also has references to sex, and there's a lot of frat-party drinking, as well as drug use (McCarthy and a bunch of sorority sisters accidentally binge on marijuana-infused chocolate). The language is occasionally strong ("s--t," "a--hole," etc.), but it's not pervasive. Expect plenty of physical comedy (as per usual for McCarthy), as well as a bunch of pop-culture references and an extended '80s-themed party sequence.

User Reviews

Adult Written byKenzie W. May 22, 2018

Life of the Party

I watched this movie last weekend and it was hilarious. I loved the acting. Melissa McCarthy was a very good decision to have her play the mean role. I don... Continue reading
Adult Written bySqueaker S. May 17, 2018

Disappointing and cringeworthy at times

Thought this would be a fun movie and it started in an amusing fashion but the comedy soon felt tired and at times uncomfortable. I thought the coma girl refere... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bygen123 May 20, 2018
It is pretty boring at some parts. Has kissing in it but isn’t too bad. Lots of drinking. A few innuendos.

What's the story?

LIFE OF THE PARTY stars Melissa McCarthy as Deanna, a newly divorced woman who returns to college to finally finish her bachelor's degree. Moments after Deanna and her husband, Dan (Matt Walsh), drop off their only daughter, Maddie (Molly Gordon), at her sorority house at Decatur University for her senior year, Dan announces that he's in love with another woman and wants out of their marriage. Devastated, Deanna decides that she needs to return to Decatur to complete her archaeology studies; the first time around she dropped out after getting pregnant. So Deanna moves on to campus and hangs out with Maddie, who's initially hesitant but grows to love having her mom around all the time. Maddie's sorority sisters also love Deanna, who mothers them all. She even gets involved in a May-December romance with a handsome frat guy named Jack (Luke Benward).

Is it any good?

McCarthy is an undeniably talented comedian, but this formulaic college comedy collaboration with her writer-director husband Ben Falcone falls short of her potential. There are a few laugh-out-loud moments, mostly courtesy of McCarthy's chemistry with on-screen best friend Christine (Maya Rudolph). Their scenes together are natural and funny, the two actresses appearing to ad-lib. Saturday Night Live cast member Heidi Gardner is also amusing as Deanna's intimidating roommate. But there's a lot that either falls flat or comes off as a copycat of so many other movies. For example, the age of Gillian Jacobs' character, Helen, is explained away as the result of an eight-year-long coma. The resulting "coma girl" jokes are neither funny nor necessary when there are plenty of older college students who haven't experienced severe brain injuries.

Viewers of a certain age will remember the classic Rodney Dangerfield movie Back to School, a pivotal '80s comedy about a rags-to-riches millionaire who returns to college to bond with his son. Perhaps it's a sign of age and nostalgia, but Life of the Party is far less funny or memorable than that comedy. For one, the only class we see Deanna attend is an archaeology class taught by her punny former classmate-turned-academic, played by Chris Parnell. And while Dangerfield's romance was with an age-appropriate professor (Sally Kellerman), here Deanna robs the cradle and sleeps (repeatedly) with a college-aged guy her daughter's age. It would've felt more true had the frat guy been a one-night stand and the true love interest be Parnell's character. As it is, it's sweet that McCarthy and Falcone enjoy working together, but they have yet to make a movie as good as their individual talents. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether Deanna is a good role model in Life of the Party. What character strengths does she display? What makes her so beloved not only by her daughter but also by most of the sorority?

  • Talk about the drinking and drug use in the movie. Is it realistic? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?

  • Have you seen other movies about adults returning to college or high school? What do you think makes it such an appealing theme/premise?

  • Does the movie reinforce stereotypes about the Greek system and sororities or undermine them? How are they depicted in the movie?

Movie details

For kids who love comedies

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