PG-13 Dir: Ben Falcone | Warner | 1h 45min
Plot: What’s it about?
It’s not often that we have females who specialize in physical comedy. That’s not to say that it’s a “talent” reserved to males, but my mind always races to two of the greats: Chris Farley and John Belushi (may they rest in peace). Still, Melissa McCarthy has made a name for herself in such films as Bridesmaids, Identity Theft, The Heat and Tammy showcasing her array of abilities. McCarthy, together with her real-life partner-in-crime, Ben Falcone, seem to have mastered their craft and the latest jewel in the crown is Life of the Party. McCarthy has dabbled in some drama, but her roots and her talent lie by making us laugh. Is her latest effort more of the same?
Deanne Miles (Melissa McCarthy) is a dedicated wife and mother. Her one regret, however, is that she dropped out of college during her Senior year to provide for her daughter, Maggie (Molly Gordon). Maddie is now heading off to school herself but not before Deanna’s husband, Dan (Matt Walsh) drops a bombshell – he wants a divorce. Dan’s already seeing someone else with intentions to marry her. He’s also selling their house leaving Deanna high and dry. Deanna reflects and figures that there’s no time like the present to do the one thing she’s regretted in life – go back to school and get her degree in Archaeology. Of course, she’s a student at the same school Maddie is, otherwise what’s the point? Mother and daughter are living it up on campus, but sometimes things don’t go according to plan…
If the plot sounds familiar, well you’re right. Fans of the 1986 film classic Back to School will no doubt seem some similarities (though in that movie Rodney Dangerfield’s character joined his son at school). Still, this film provides an ample vehicle for McCarthy’s talents, physical and otherwise. It also helps that it was written and directed by real-life husband, Ben Falcone who also directed her in Identity Theft, The Boss and Tammy. McCarthy seems to have found just the right mix of pathos and her physical bravado to make you laugh and, yes, cry. Still, the strong supporting cast does their best to back up McCarthy with Maya Rudolph offering up one of her best performances to date as Deanna’s neurotic best friend. Julie Bowen, Stephen Root and Jacki Weaver also have smaller, yet equally memorable roles.
Video: How’s it look?
Admittedly, looking at Life of the Party on Blu-ray leaves little to the imagination. Warner’s 2.39:1 AVC HD encode is simply gorgeous in every sense of the word. And don’t let some of the older faces in the cast throw you, there’s plenty of college-age girls in the mix! That said, detail is spectacular, colors are bright and bold and visuals have a look that makes you want to reach out and see if what you’re viewing is real or not (it’s not). Kidding aside, we all know what to expect from a new to Blu-ray film and this one gets extremely high marks across the board.
Audio: How’s it sound?
A fairly robust DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack gets a few chances to flex its muscle. McCarthy’s films are, and most likely always will be, comedically and physically-driven, so there’s not a lot of “oomph” to most of the film. Still, vocals are rich and pure, surrounds add some life to the party (pardon the pun) mainly during some of the more frenzied scenes. Nothing really to complain about here – well done.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- ’80s Party – The cast discusses the 80’s-themed party from the film and. Melissa McCarthy played the role of costume designer as she found the outfits for the main characters.
- Mom Sandwich – Stephen Root and Jacki Weaver’s characters are profiled and were actually based on Melissa McCarthy’s own parents. Also sandwiches are discussed.
- Line-O-Rama – You know the drill – flubbed and improvised lines. Laughing ensues.
- Bill Hate-O-Rama – Pretty much more of the same, only this is directed at Bill’s (Steve Mallory) character.
- Gag Reel – Tons and tons of shenanigans on the set.
- Deleted Scenes – The most robust supplement included has over 45 minutes of deleted scenes, some of which were pretty amusing. This is a nice inclusion and I felt a few could and should have been put into the film.
The Bottom Line
If you’re a fan of Melissa McCarthy’s films, and it’s hard not to be, then this one is right up your alley. There seems to be a bit more heart in this one than the others and her foul-mouth is decidedly a bit more toned down. Warner’s Blu-ray bot looks and sounds good, though it’s a tad bit light on supplements.