MOVIE BUFF-ET: Unfunny ‘Life of the Party’ fails to make the grade


Melissa McCarthy is a funny woman and a fine actress. There is no denying that.

She’s proven herself on the small screen on “Gilmore Girls” and “Mike and Molly.” On the big screen, she broke big in a hilarious, movie-stealing part in “Bridesmaids.” Co-starring with Sandra Bullock in “The Heat,” she had another hit, and McCarthy proved she could carry a film on her own with the outrageously funny “Spy.”

The talent is there, but unfortunately, McCarthy doesn’t have the best nose for material because she has been wasting her abilities in a string of mediocre to bad movies the last few years, and “Life of the Party” is another miss.

The movie has some laughs, mostly from McCarthy’s slapstick skills, but the gender-twisted remake of Rodney Dangerfield classic “Back to School” fails horribly. The film is too much in places and too little in others, and overall it plays as a boring mess.

The cliches are endless as McCarthy’s character Deanna opts to go back to college after her husband dumps her for a younger women. Of course, she opts to attend the same university that her daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) attends. Maya Rudolph lends support as Deanna’s neurotic best friend Christine, but there is no saving this movie.

The film, directed by McCarthy’s husband Ben Faclone, grows tiresome with sitcom-type humor that’s better written and executed by scores of TV shows that you can watch for free in the comfort of your own home.

Falcone and McCarthy are responsible for the script that’s not as inventive or as funny as most of the material on her old TV show “Mike and Molly.”

According to IMDB, McCarthy’s next three films are independent of Falcone, who has directed three of her most recent projects. They do have another film together in the pipeline, but maybe, working other directors will reinvigorate McCarthy and her career.

Another couple of projects like “Life of the Party” could relegate her to supporting parts or possibly back to network television.

(PG-13) 1 hr. 46 min.
Grade: D+

Classic Corner – Sunset Boulevard

The Malco Razorback Theater in conjunction with Fathom Events is showing the classic insider’s look at old Hollywood “Sunset Boulevard” at 2 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday.

There really is no other movie quite like Billy Wilder’s “Sunset Boulevard.” Wilder co-wrote the movie along with producer Charles Brackett and directed the 1950 film that almost defies categorization.

The movie without a doubt fits the hole of film noir, but is it a drama or melodrama or camp? Black comedy or a tragedy that dips into realms of horror? Maybe, it’s all of that? It’s definitely a movie you won’t forget.

Some would, no doubt argue with the point that it is Wilder’s best film, but it would be hard to refute that it is his most distinctive and biting work.

Gloria Swanson’s magnificent performance as the mad and deluded former silent-film star Norma Desmond is engrossing and horrifying. It’s sad yet hilarious, and gloriously over-the-top. It’s counterbalanced by an equally as strong but no-nonsense performance by Williams Holden, as a hack writer and ultimately her kept man.

No doubt the film is dated, but if given the chance to work its wiles, the movie has an almost hypnotic allure that makes you keep watching despite feeling like you want to look away.

At the time of its release, the movie hit a little too close to home with the fading Hollywood set. A couple of decades later, though, the cautionary tale was rife for a spoof, and Carol Burnett and her television troupe hit it out of the park with a skit that’s almost as classic as the actual film.

Burnett’s parody is hilarious. One of the show’s best, and it only becomes better upon actually seeing the source material.