REVIEW: “LIFE OF THE PARTY” (2018) New Line/Warner Bros.

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‘LIFE OF THE PARTY’ is comedy about a recently divorced mother Deanna (Melissa McCarthy) who decides to go back to college to finish getting her degree after dropping out for motherhood in her junior year. She then ends up in her daughter Maddies’ (Molly Gordon) class and while Maddie isn’t so super thrilled about this fact, much to her surprise, her sorority sisters actually love it. Written and Directed by Ben Falcone, McCarthy’s real life husband (who of course has a bit part), along with Melissa also contributing to the writing portion. The movie is definitely a mixed bag – with only a few highlights and the rest of it to be almost painfully uneven, with hit-and-miss laughs along the way.

The high points of the film are definitely made and taken by McCarthy and her ‘going back to college’ adventure. Her character feels liberated for the first time in her life and truly sets out to find herself. Problem is, she begins partying with Maddie’s friends and sleeping with frat boy Jack (Luke Benward) who is half her age. She of course finds happiness, and her true self in the process.

The film is really funny in places, and when McCarthy plays off an 80’s dance contest and a hysterical dining scene, she is ON!!! – and there isn’t a lot of people who are better at pulling those moments off. Sadly, there isn’t enough of them and the film is completely not funny at all in other places. The odd turns it takes at times being even painful to watch, and then moments later it’s hilarious again. The supporting cast of Maya Rudolph as her best friend Christine and Stephen Root & Jacki Weaver as Deanna’s parents Sandy & Mike, add so much. But it’s the young supporting cast here of Maddie’s friends Helen aka ‘Coma Girl‘ (Gillian Jacobs), Jennifer (Debby Ryan), Amanda (Adria Arjona) & Debbie (Jessie Enis), that give some much needed spark with Jacobs leading the pack. And yes, there is a cameo performance by..(drum roll) Xtina – I mean..

I’ve seen a lot of comedies like this, and of course they’re hard to overly recommend, or discourage people from seeing as you’ve seen worse and you’ve seen better. It’s definitely good for at least some laughs, and a bit of feel good/positive vibes too.

Grade: C-
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Media Review Screening: Thursday, May 10, 2018 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros.
‘LIFE OF THE PARTY’ IS OUT IN THEATERS NATIONWIDE/WORLDWIDE ON FRIDAY, MAY 11, 2018

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REVIEW: “OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY” (2016) Paramount

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“OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY” delivers exactly what we all need right now.. some much needed laughs. With 2016 so far being the probably one of the worst years in the history of well..ever..this film is just what the ‘Office’ ordered.
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This over-the-top fun ensemble comedy about what happens when a company holiday party goes way, way, way out of control and things start flying out of windows and reindeers are drinking from toilets.

Basic storyline: uptight sister/CEO Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston) threatens to shut down the Chicago office of father’s company, Zenotek, mostly because of the antics of her hard partying brother, Clay Vanstone (T. J. Miller) and cancel the office Christmas party. Branch manager Josh Parker (Jason Bateman) plans an epic bash against her wishes to win over a big client Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance) to prevent the axe from falling on all the employees. OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY
But of course, the party quickly gets way out of hand, leaving the office in mess of chaos and destruction. Oddly enough, there is a relatable plot in this movie also, and a somewhat decent one at that. Yes, Bateman is Batemen and Anniston is Anniston, but truly, we aren’t looking for Oscar’s here – we are looking for a laugh and we do find those. With the top-notch supporting cast which includes Kate McKinnon as the hysterical HR manager Mary, Olivia Munn as tech/coding expert Tracey Hughes, Rob Corddry, Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Fortune Feimster and so many more. It’s truly a full ensemble comedy in the truest sense of the word.
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It leaves out the super crass and vulgar, which is nice, though it does have a few ‘huh’ scenes, it definitely doesn’t go down the worst of roads in that extreme. Teens will likely want to see this movie and I recommend it as a PG-13. It also has a momentary sweet homage to Prince and David Bowie that gets a round of cheers from me and most of the screening I was in.

Can you disect this movie piece by piece and find all it’s flaws..sure you can..but why? Just go have fun with it and laugh at the ever-devolving scenario of a party gone nuts.

Grade: C+
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Media Review Screening: Tuesday, December 6, 2016 ~ Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Nationwide Release: Friday, December 9, 2016

REVIEW: “THE BOSS” (2016) Universal Pictures

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Actor, producer and co-writer of this comedy, Melissa McCarthy comes out strong for the first 1/3 of this film featuring her ‘alter-ego’ Michelle Darnell, a character she created with specifics in mind 14 years ago when she was at The Groundlings.

Darnell’s character is a high-powered businesswoman and motivational speaker whose childhood (back n forth between an orphanage and foster care) taught her that the only person she can depend on is herself. She’s self-centered, arrogant and basically completely amoral, seemly part Leona Hemsley/Martha Stewart and an R-rated Little Orphan Annie.
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Michelle generally uses and abuses her personal assistant, Claire (Kristen Bell), and her bodyguard isn’t much more than her personal hype man. When Michelle is arrested for insider trading and sent to jail for five months, everyone abandons her, former lover and long-time business rival Renault (Peter Dinklage) buys her companies and the authorities freeze all of her remaining assets. Looks like someone has to start all over again.
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Long & dull, yet incredibly profane & violent at times, story ensues of Michelle going to and being released from jail. When she doesn’t have anywhere to go, she ends up at ex-assistant Claire’s apartment who now works for a crazy Darnell disciple, Dana Dandridge (played by SNL’s Cecily Strong). Claire’s pre-teen daughter, Rachel (Ella Anderson), convinces her mom that they have to help Michelle and allows her former boss to stay in the apartment until she gets back on her feet, but Michelle’s feet remain reclined on Claire’s couch until her hand is forced and ends up taking Rachel to her Dandelions meeting (think Girl Scouts) where troop leader Sandy (Kristen Schaal) is discussing their cookie sales.

Michelle gets an idea that her “way back” is to form a group called Darnell’s Darlings which will teach girls business skills as they sell brownies that Claire makes from an old family recipe. Michelle gets Rachel to help her recruit various tough girls and other misfits to join up and sell brownies for a percent of the profits and approaches her estranged former mentor Ida Marquette (Kathy Bates) for financing to help expand the business, but as all this is going on, Renault and his assistant Stephan (Timothy Simons) are keeping tabs on the whole deal and just want the payback that he feels her still owes her.
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I could go on.. but the question is almost why?? Trust me, I’m helping you here to avoid wasting your money even bothering to watch this one. “The Boss” is mostly unoriginal, uninspired, unrealistic and unfunny. The clich├ęd plot lazily recycles the often used story of a main character who has been supposedly ‘hardened’ by a tough life and doesn’t know how to give or receive love. There are a few laughs to be found here and there, again, the first third of the film is good, but the movie’s other problems just kill the mood. Besides that, the movie’s attempts at humor are overly dependent on odd cartoonish violence involving children, cursing around, by and at children, and vulgar sexual references which come off as more crude than funny. McCarthy herself has been much funnier in previous films and hopefully she’ll be funnier again in her future projects. Sadly, her character in this film is one boss who should be fired herself.

Grade: D
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Review Screening: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Nationwide Release: Friday, April 8, 2016