W ith the rise of the Frat Pack, there was always something oddly regressive about the lack of female comedy stars breaking through simultaneously. As Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Vince Vaughn made considerable strides at the box office, the s was looking less successful for women. It was even stranger given that just two decades before, stars like Goldie Hawn, Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin and Bette Midler were given vehicles to show off their comedic talents. It meant the late decade advent of Melissa McCarthy was charmingly old-fashioned and strikingly progressive. But she remained an engaging presence throughout with her scrappy knack for physical comedy distracting from subpar scripts.
Film Review: ‘Life of the Party’
Anatomy of a Scene | ‘Life of the Party’
Belly up to the frat bar. By Amy Nicholson. What a surprise. Yang bunks across the hall. Of course. Mais non! They can coexist. The most nerve-wracking scene is simply watching Deanna give an oral presentation with extreme stage fright that triggers her to sweat through her clothes. What Deanna contributes on her magical journey is her certainty that these girls will become incredible women — and her insistence that they should seize their powers now.
With one important exception — to be discussed in a moment — the students at Decatur University are a notably bland bunch. They have no political opinions or intellectual passions, their sex lives are almost nonexistent, and their parties rarely get out of hand. Still, since the title refers to Melissa McCarthy — a producer and co-writer with her husband, Ben Falcone, who directed — there is a measure of liveliness at least. McCarthy plays Deanna, who finds herself, somewhere in her 40s, suddenly divorced and enrolled at Decatur, where her daughter, Maddie Molly Gordon , happens to be a senior. Deanna gave up her dreams of studying archaeology to raise Maddie and endure wedlock to a guy named Dan, played by Matt Walsh. Walsh is one of several fine comic performers without much to do. But everyone seems game and eager to please, and happy to be working with Ms.