Life of the Party
Just-Dumped Divorcee’ Returns to College in Bawdy, Midlife Crisis Comedy
Deanna Miles (Melissa McCarthy) was a junior in college when she got pregnant and dropped out of school to have the baby. She married her boyfriend, Dan (Matt Walsh), who finished his degree and kick-started his career while she remained a stay-at-home mom.
Fast forward to the present and we find the couple dropping now-grown Maddie (Molly Gordon) off at their alma mater, Decatur University, where she’s about to begin her senior year. She’s happy to be moving back in with her girlfriends living at Theta Mu Gamma sorority house.
On the drive home, Dan drops a bombshell on Deanna. He’s canceled their planned, month-long vacation in Italy in favor of filing for divorce. Furthermore, the callous creep wants her out of the house, since it’s in his name alone.
To add insult to injury, he’s putting it on the market with the help of his mistress Marcie (Julie Bowen), a realtor in town. And he has the temerity to rub salt into his shocked wife’s wounds by explaining the ongoing affair with, “I just needed an upgrade.”
That cruel behavior frees Deanna to put some of his favorite belongings in a pile and set them on fire. Still, she’s left in a quandary about what to do next, not having worked and or even graduated from college.
Then she comes up with the bright idea of returning to Decatur to do her senior year right along with her daughter. Too bad Molly’s mortified about the prospect of having her mom on campus.
But that is precisely the premise of Life of the Party, a midlife crisis comedy directed by Ben Falcone and co-written by Ben and his real-life wife, Melissa McCarthy. The movie marks the couple’s third and most successful collaboration, following the less funny Tammy (2014) and The Boss (2016). This offering is most reminiscent of Back to School (1986), the Rodney Dangerfield classic about a dad who decides to matriculate at the same college as his son.
While Melissa McCarthy has undeniably been hilarious in buddy flicks and as part of an ensemble, a la Bridesmaids (2011), The Heat (2013) and Ghostbusters (2016), she remains yet to prove an ability to maintain that level of laughter carrying a star vehicle.
That being said, this female-centric variation of Back to School is well worth the investment.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, partying and drug use
Running time: 105 minutes
Production Studios: New Line Cinema/ Warner Brothers / On the Day Productions
Distributor: New Line Cinema / Warner Brothers Pictures
Pope Francis: A Man of His Word
Papal Profile Paints Intimate Portrait of the People’s Pontiff
Who is Pope Francis? Baptized Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he was born in Argentina on Dec. 17, 1936. He would follow his calling at an early age by entering the seminary while still in his teens.
After being ordained, he began his career teaching theology. He was appointed Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, and subsequently named a cardinal three years later by John Paul II.
When he became pope in March of 2013, he made history by being the first Jesuit, the first from the Americas, and the first Francis. He took that name in honor of Francis of Assisi, the Saint generally regarded as the one most closely mirroring Christ’s compassion for the poor.
Directed by three-time, Oscar-nominee Wim Wenders (for Buena Vista Social Club, The Salt of the Earth and Pina), Pope Francis: A Man of His Word is a poignant profile which follows the peripatetic pontiff around the planet as he executes his papal duties. You get the sense that this is a humble person who prefers to downplay pomp and circumstance in favor of making himself as available as possible to the masses that compose his flock.
Driving around in a modest sedan instead of a stretch limo or ornate Popemobile, his high priority points-of-call include children’s wards in hospitals, prison yards of correctional facilities, and Auschwitz concentration camp. It is clear that he feels compelled to literally heed Jesus’ plea to minister to “the least of my brethren.”
Again and again, Pope Francis’ sermons, touching on timely themes ranging from poverty to pollution, exhibit a sincere concern for the underclass and the disenfranchised. During an address to a joint session of Congress, tears can be seen welling up in the eyes of members on both sides of the aisle.
A fitting portrait of the People’s Pope.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG for mature themes and images of suffering
In Italian, Spanish, German and English with subtitles
Running time: 96 minutes
Production Studio: The Palindrome / Centro Televisivo Vaticano / Decia Films
Distributor: Focus Features
OPENING THIS WEEK
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening May 18, 2018
Book Club (PG-13 for profanity and pervasive sex-related material) Romantic comedy revolving around four lifelong friends (Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen and Candice Bergen) whose sex lives are turned upside-down after their monthly book club discussion of Fifty Shades of Grey. Support cast includes Craig T. Nelson, Alicia Firestone, Don Johnson, Andy Garcia, Richard Dreyfuss and Ed Begley, Jr.
Deadpool 2 (R for sexual references, graphic violence, brief drug use and pervasive profanity) 11th installment in Marvel Comics’ X-Men franchise finds the wisecracking title character (Ryan Reynolds) forming a ragtag team of superheroes to protect a young mutant (Julian Dennison) being hunted by a time-traveling, cybernetic soldier (Josh Brolin). With Morena Baccarin, Zazie Beetz and T.J. Miller.
Show Dogs (PG for suggestive and rude humor, action and mild epithets) Crime comedy about a police K-9 (Ludacris) who goes undercover as a pampered pooch with the help of his detective partner (Will Arnett) to prevent a looming disaster at the world’s most exclusive dog show. With Natasha Lyonne, Omar Chaparro and Andy Beckwith, and featuring voicework by Shaquille O’Neal, RuPaul, Alan Cumming and Jordin Sparks.
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN
Carter & June (Unrated) Michael Raymond-James and Samaire Armstrong play the title characters in this mob comedy as ex-lovers who reunite to pull a bank heist which goes horribly wrong. With Timothy Omundson, Paul Rae and James Landry Hebert.
First Reformed (R for some disturbing violent images) Suspense thriller, set in upstate New York, revolving around a grieving pastor (Ethan Hawke) whose counseling of the depressed husband (Philip Ettinger) of a pregnant parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) fails in tragic fashion. Supporting cast includes Cedric the Entertainer, Michael Gaston and Victoria Hill.
The Most Unknown (Unrated) Frontier documentary following visionary scientists on the cutting edge as they explore new fields and seek answers to an array of unanswered questions.
On Chesil Beach (R for nudity and sexuality) Adaptation of Ian McEwan’s best-selling novel of the same name, set in Dorset in the summer of ’62, chronicling the courtship of a young couple (Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howie) that culminates in a bedroom crisis on their wedding night. With Emily Watson, Bebe Cave and Samuel West.
Pope Francis: A Man of His Word (PG for mature themes and images of suffering) Papal profile taking the audience on an intimate, cinematic journey with Pope Francis as he pontificates about poverty, pollution and social justice. (In Italian, Spanish, German and English with subtitles.)
Sollers Point (R for sexuality, drug use and pervasive profanity) Tale of redemption revolving around a just-paroled ex-con’s (McCaul Lombardi) attempt to readjust to society while living under house arrest in Baltimore at the home of his father (Jim Belushi). With Imani Hakim, Zazie Beetz and Tom Guiry.
That Summer (Unrated) Leisure class documentary, set during the summer of ’72, chronicling the comings and goings of pop icons and jet setters at Grey Gardens, the sprawling Long Island estate of socialites “Big Edith” and “Little Edith” Bouvier Beale. Featuring file footage of Ady Warhol, Lee Radziwill, Peter Beard and Paul Morrissey.