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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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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!"
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Products & Purchases
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.
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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 Blockers, Bad 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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.