Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 05-16-2018

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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2 ENTERTAINMENT MAY 16-22-2018 | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER LIVING EDITION McCarthy's 'Life of the Party' receives failing grade HH Melissa McCarthy has had her share of hits and misses in her short film career since breaking out in "Bridesmaids." She is very funny at times, but like any performer, sometimes the material they're given is what makes the difference. "The Boss," "The Heat" and the rebooted "Ghostbusters" weren't all that good. Usually McCarthy collaborates with director Paul Feig, this time around she teams with her husband, Ben Falcone, on "Life of the Party." It's a mediocre tale of a middle-aged woman going back to college to finish her senior year and get her degree. McCarthy portrays Deanna, a mom who sees her marriage end after 20-plus years, realizes she was reli- ant on her ex, Dan (Matt Walsh), and decides she needs to support herself. She returns to college and, of course, enrolls at the same one as her daugh- ter. Shenanigans and hilarity ensue as expected usually at the expense of or due to Deanna (McCarthy). The flaw to this film, and many other ones that McCarthy stars in, is that she is often the butt of the joke. She is often portrayed as portly, unat- tractive or clumsy. I have brought this up before and will again, it reminds me very much of how Chris Farley ended up typecast in many roles because of his size. I feel like McCarthy does this far too often and whether it is by her own design or her handlers, I don't know, but I feel like it's not an effective way to showcase her innate abilities. McCarthy is, as always, supported by a great expanded cast and many of the faces you will recognize from Comedy Central, "Saturday Night Live" and other television comedies. Julie Bowen, who is by far the star of ABC's "Modern Family" has some great moments here as the new woman in Dan's life, Marcie. Maya Rudolph's Christine is a great foil and wing-woman to McCarthy's Deanna. McCarthy is clearly a talented and funny actress but it riles me up that she always has to resort to the lower levels of the bar to finish her jokes or resort to pratfalls. Let's also be clear about one other thing, the 800-pound gorilla in the room as it were, this is undoubt- edly a loose remake of 1986's "Back to School" which was another one of those classic '80s films starring Rodney Dangerfield as a wealthy self- made businessman who goes back to college to prove a point to his son. I guess the one difference between the films, McCarthy's Deanna goes back for herself while Rodney went back to emphasize to his son that get- ting a degree was the smart thing to do. Both films have their fair share of obnoxious and inappropriate behav- ior and honestly, in this age of the #metoo movement, there's some stuff that's awkward now. But that can be said of lots of films from 30 years ago. I also get the impression that McCarthy and director/husband Falcone were trying to differentiate their film from Rodney's, but regret- tably, there's some beats here that seem all too familiar. There are also some groan-worthy lines here and Deanna's fish-out-of-water moments at the college seem too forced and manipulated. A mildly funny, but half-baked offering from McCarthy. The film is rated PG-13. Film Unfiltered TOM BURKE MELISSA MCCARTHY, center, plays a middle-aged mom who goes back college in "Life of the Party." The movie also stars, from left, MOLLY GORDON, GILLIAN JACOBS and JESSIE ENNIS.

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