MOVIE REVIEW: You don’t want an invite to this party
A LAME, laughter-challenged comedy, Life of the Party urgently needs you to forget two things, and forget 'em fast if you intend to somehow enjoy it in any way.
First of all, extinguish completely any recall of the classic 1980s Rodney Dangerfield hit Back to School, the premise of which has been shiftily duplicated with only a basic gender-reversal to cover its tracks.
Second of all, it will also pay not to remember that approximately 90 per cent of American comedian Melissa McCarthy's screen output since her brilliant breakthrough in Bridesmaids many moons ago has stunk to high heaven.
While this isn't the most pungent thing the star has done, it is consistently faintly on the nose throughout.
McCarthy plays Deanna, a frumpy, clingy, over-sharing mother who has decided it might be a great idea to enrol at the same college as her daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon).
Of course, it is immediately a terrible idea, with Deanna moving from one unintentionally embarrassing incident to the next with gormless, go-figure glee.
Deanna becomes best buds with a student who has just come out of an eight-year-long coma, Helen (Gillian Jacobs).
Deanna makes the kind of age-inappropriate fashion choices that draws every mean girl on campus out of their dorm rooms to do their bitchy worst.
Deanna goes to parties - a lot of parties - and throws the kind of age-inappropriate shapes that you can see coming from several continents away.
Except maybe the scene where Deanna picks up a rather sheltered college-age male for some adult fun in the campus library. He later thanks her by declaring "you are my sexual Dumbledore."
A lot of the so-so set pieces thrown into the mix to let McCarthy make mirth while the plot hits the pause button might have been OK had the star applied some fresh energy to their execution.
For whatever reason, a stack of scenes McCarthy should be nailing with ease become a succession of flatlining punchlines delivered without a modicum of zest. It often feels like you are watching take 10 or 20 of a bit that lost all comic potential back at take 1 or 2.
LIFE OF THE PARTY (M)
Rating: One and a half stars (1.5 out of 5)
Director: Ben Falcone (Tammy)
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Molly Gordon, Gillian Jacobs, Maya Rudolph, Julie Bowen, Matt Walsh.
Verdict : No cause for celebration